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Carmelites at World Youth Day in Madrid
31 August 2011

WYD attracts huge crowd
As estimated 1.7 million pilgrims from more than 190 countries took part in the 13th World Youth Day held in the Spanish capital of Madrid between 16th and 21st August. Among them were just over 500 young people from Carmelite communities around the world, gathering for a time of festival, community, worship and recollection.

As previously reported on this website, on Sunday 14th August a group of three Carmelite friars and six young people set off from London as the British Province's contingent at World Youth Day (WYD). They joined the Southwark Catholic Youth Service and stayed at a school run by the Cabrini sisters in northern Madrid.

Pilgrims from the British Province of Carmelites

On Monday morning the Carmelites took part in a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark Archdiocese who remained with his group for the duration of the pilgrimage.

A good number of bishops from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland took part in WYD. Among them were Terence Drainey of Middlesbrough Diocese (left) and Pat Lynch of Southwark Archdiocese who have close links with Carmelites in their areas.

Braving stifling heat, the young pilgrims then set out to orient themselves in the city via the Metro.

Brother Neil (left) and Fr. Damian blending in with the crowds in Madrid.

Carmelite Day
Wednesday 17th August was a special Carmelite Day, bringing together members and friends of the Order from approximately twenty countries. As reported by the CITOC Carmelite news service, the Carmelite Day was organized by members of the General Curia and the Spanish Provinces.

Special flags bearing the Order's crest welcomed Carmelites from around the world.

Carmelite young people in procession.

The pilgrims - friars, sisters and laity - were welcomed by the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Most Rev. Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., himself a native of Madrid.

The Prior General was joined by Fr. John Keating (left, General Councillor for Europe) and Fr. Raul Maravi (right, General Councillor for the Americas,
who has a particular remit with regard to the Order and young people).

The Prior General invited all the participants to read a special letter he had written for the occasion. In it Fr. Fernando urged young people to "look, contemplate, and love", taking particular inspiration from St. John of the Cross.

The Prior General, Fr. Fernando, greetings pilgrims at the Carmelite Day.

The Prior General wrote: "Contemplation (if it is really Christian contemplation and not some kind of pseudo-spiritual escapism) makes us more human, more people of solidarity, more sensitive to the dark nights and the drama of our world. Contemplation thus becomes a form of conversion and kind of sending and mission. Lighten the burden others have to bear, heal wounds, open doors and windows to let hope come in, dry tears, caress a humanity that is suffering… and help the men and women of our time to become full human persons, more free, more just and more content… with a consciousness of being children of the God who gave us this wonderful world. That is why I ask you, young Carmelites, to take up this fascinating challenge." To read the letter in full click here.

Some of the group of British pilgrims at the Carmelite Day.

The three friar pilgrims from the British Province (left-right):
Fr. Damian Cassidy, Bro. Neil Scott, Bro. Paul Jenkins

The Carmelite Day consisted of moments of prayer, presentations by the different groups, discussion groups, workshops on different themes, exhibitions on the work of young people in Carmel (including the JUCAR group in Iberia, and Karit group linked to the Carmelite NGO), vocations, a prayer trail and a place of adoration.

The Prior General with the young pilgrims at the Carmelite Day.

Religious sisters and friars at the Carmelite Day.

Members of the British Province group at the Carmelite Day.

The icon of Our Lady of Hope (from the Pilgrimage of Hope held in Rome in 2010) was enthroned in a special place throughout the day.

Pilgrims leaving prayer petitions around the icon of Our Lady of Hope.

The icon being carried by Carmelite nuns.

The next morning the icon was brought to the Carmelite Monastery at Maravillas in Madrid for a Mass for the Carmelite groups attending WYD. This was indeed a Carmelite event, presided over by the Prior General and ending with a personal vocation witness by a young enclosed Carmelite sister of the Maravillas monastery, Sr. Brunilda de la Santisima Trinidad.

Sr. Brunilda giving her testimony

The icon of Our Lady of Hope will now travel throughout the Iberian peninsula in the coming year as a follow-up to the great success of the Madrid event.

The Prior General entrusting the icon of Our Lady of Hope to a young pilgrim.

To view video footage of the Carmelite Youth Day, click on the play (arrow) button below:

A world-wide communion of prayer
Those in Madrid were connected with thousands of Carmelites around the world supporting the WYD in prayer. At 1.30pm local time in Spain, Carmelites around the world spent time in prayer for the group in Madrid, some using a prayer booklet prepared specially for the event. Through a dedicated page on the Carmelite Curia's website, the young people received messages of greeting from Carmelites around the globe. The pilgrims were remembered in prayer at the Grotto in Lourdes during the British Province pilgrimage.

Brother Neil with one of the thousands of volunteers who welcomed pilgrims.

Days of Catechesis
On returning to the Cabrini school the Carmelite group from the British Province rejoined Southwark Catholic Youth Service for a reconciliation service led by Fr. Damian Cassidy, O.Carm.

Brother Paul with young pilgrims from Southwark Archdiocese.

The following days of WYD were devoted to catechesis, exploring the Christian faith in language groups guided by a talk from a bishop. As well as talks about the faith, the mornings included prayer, song, questions and discussions and concluded with the celebration of Mass followed by lunch. The topics for these mornings were taken from the WYD theme: 'Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith' (St Paul's letter to the Colossians 2:7).

Brothers Paul (left) and Neil knew the importance of keeping their cool!

During WYD the Carmelite friars of the British Province sponsored the publication of a pilgrims' newspaper called Viva, distributed to hundreds of thousands of participants. It includes articles by several members of the Carmelite Family, including the Prior General. To download it in PDF format click here.

Viva newspaper, sponsored by the Carmelites.

Praying alongside the Holy Father
On Thursday 18th August Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Madrid and was welcomed by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia. He took part in various meetings and special liturgies, as described on the WYD Madrid website.

On Saturday 20th August nearly 2 million young people gathered for an overnight prayer vigil consisting of music and song, a ceremony of candlelight, testimonies, greetings from the Holy Father and Benediction. Eucharistic adoration and the chance for quiet reflection was available in many chapels around the site. The Holy Father's homily was unfortunately disrupted by a sharp blustery shower.

Pilgrims gathered for the Prayer Vigil

The Pope braving the elements as the Gospel is read at the Prayer Vigil

Sunday 21st August was the climax of the pilgrimage with a World Youth Day Mass celebrated by the Holy Father. Watch the Mass on video by clicking on the image below:

At the end of the Mass the Youth Cross and icon of Our Lady were handed over by the youth of Spain to the youth of Brazil, who will host the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

Pilgrims from Brazil rejoice at the news that Rio will host the next WYD in 2013.

The close of WYD
In his farewell speech Pope Benedict said: "Young people readily respond when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of humanity. Now those young people are returning home as missionaries of the Gospel, “rooted and built up in Christ, and firm in the faith”, and they will need to be helped on their way. So I urge bishops, priests, religious and Christian educators in particular, to care for those young people who want to respond enthusiastically to the Lord’s call." To read the text in full click here.

Further resources

Photographs courtesy of: Neil Scott, O.Carm.; Raul Maravi, O.Carm.; Southwark Catholic Youth Service photostream; Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk