SPAIN, AUGUST 15, 2011: Pilgrims attending the World Youth Day (WYD) are accommodated for the first week in the dioceses around Madrid. Associates of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) hailing from Congo, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Italy, Mexico, Sudan, and USA are housed at the Salesian house at GUADALAJARA.
Guadalajara – a half hour drive away from Madrid - is a small, clean city with a population of 250,000. Built atop small undulating hills, its well-maintained roads wind across the contours of the land. Assorted trees in parks and across well-kept streets and campuses with modern and traditional Spanish architecture gives the city a picturesque, warm and cozy look. All this is an ideal setting for a reflective and prayerful pilgrimage.
The Salesians have gone out of their way to comfortably house the four hundred-plus SYM pilgrims in the structures of the complex that comprise a Parish, School with a Junior College, and a youth centre with a sports complex and theatre. “I am impressed by the way the volunteers work to make us feel at home,” said a participant. The youth have been responding well to the efforts of the animators, and bring the campus alive with their vibrant participation in the traditional Salesian style.
The warm weather across a long-day with a 6.00 a.m. dawn, and a 9.45 p.m. dusk affords plenty of sunlight for a variety of fun- and reflection-filled programmes. In like fashion, I pray that the light and warmth of Jesus, in whose name the pilgrims have gathered, may guide the numerous programmes and interactions in the days ahead. May the WYD be an experience the pilgrims will cherish for a lifetime.