They call them “Rise Up” sessions — catechism designed to remind pilgrims why they’re at World Youth Day.
Travelers from the Diocese of Brooklyn got a chance to go to confession, during their last Rise Up session of the week on Friday, August 4.
Romeo Petric, a chaperone from St. Patrick’s Church, said the sacrament has been the highlight for him during his past six World youth Days.
“When I’ve gone to confession I have tears rolling down my eyes and it’s a kind of moment and it’s you speaking to God through a priest and you just get to let everything go,” Petric said.
But even more rewarding than confessing his sin, is seeing young people confess theirs.
“They all came out,” Petric said. “They went right back to their spots, and you could see not a smile on their face but a cloud being lifted away from them. They perked up a bit.”
Teens like Shannon Keenan took advantage of the opportunity.
“I feel like confessing your sins to someone can make you a little nervous,” Keenan said. “But afterwards I definitely felt lighter and that I can continue this pilgrimage with a clear head and more focus.”
Keenan said her World Youth Day experience has put her in touch with the faith she holds in her heart as well as the one she gets to express on the outside.
“I got to hear so many speakers talking about ecology and its effect on religion and today we talked about social media and friendship and I just didn’t expect it to be so educational,” she said.
Pilgrims on Friday were still coming off of Thursday’s “Welcoming Ceremony,” where pope francis delivered a speech.
“The excitement started to build and once he entered the park the place was just explosive.”
Brooklyn’s Bishop Robert Brennan was in the crowd watching pilgrims react to what he said was a powerful message.
“He got right to the heart of the matter and spoke very plainly,” Bishop Brennan said. “Using language like God loves you as you are. The experience of World Youth Day helps people to see, wow we’re not the only ones who believe this and who believe it with the same energy.”