Sunday dawned bright and early for our pilgrims on the field, who were present for the Missioning Mass. (Our group at the hotel was blessed to celebrate Mass with Fr. Mark and other pilgrims in the hotel chapel.)
Pope Francis preached these words to the 1.5 million pilgrims at the end of the Mass:
“As young people, you want to change the world and work for justice and peace. You devote all your energy and creativity to this, yet it still seems insufficient. Yet the Church and the world needs you, the young, as much as the earth needs rain.”
“Do not be afraid!”
Among the highlights of the Missioning Mass is always the announcement of the next World Youth Day.
“The next World Youth Day (2027) … will be in South Korea, in Seoul,” Pope Francis said to cheers from the estimated 1,000 South Korean pilgrims, many of them proudly waving their country’s flag. “In 2027, from the western border of Europe, (World Youth Day) will move to the Far East, and this is a beautiful sign of the universality of the church and the dream of unity of which you are witnesses,” the pope said. (Pope Francis prefaced his announcement by urging young people to travel to Rome in 2025 to participate in youth celebrations during the jubilee year, when Vatican officials expect more than 30 million pilgrims to flock to the Eternal City.)
Our group then set out on the long – and very hot – walk back to the hotel. Upon arriving, they took full advantage of the hotel pool!
After a quiet afternoon of rest and recovery, we cleaned up and celebrated the end of World Youth Day with a joyous dinner where we shared our thoughts and experiences of the week.
Then it was back to the hotel to pack – the bus to the airport was coming at 6:00am!