By Jessica Easthope
As Pope Francis descended from the papal plane on Wednesday, Aug. 2, to start his 42nd apostolic trip, dedicated to World Youth Day in Lisbon, he was heartily greeted by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
During his first day, Pope Francis waved to pilgrims as he traveled the streets enroute to his destination.
However, his itinerary primarily consisted of pivotal meetings with dignitaries. He met with President de Sousa, Prime Minister António Costa, and later, joined bishops, priests, and deacons in a solemn vespers celebration.
Young pilgrims eagerly anticipating a chance to see the pontiff in person could hardly wait.
“He’s actually on our shirt for today, and I’m just so excited when I heard that he arrived a day earlier. It was so cool to know that I’m in the same place as him,” said Bea Bonaventura, a 16-year-old pilgrim from Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria. “Not everyone has the privilege to see the pope and especially pray with him. To know that he’s here is definitely a blessing, and with recent health problems, it’s great that he’s here,” she added.
While over 300 young Catholics from Brooklyn and Queens waited to be in Pope Francis’ company, they were led in catechesis by Diocese of Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan.
During catechesis, the pilgrims explored their relationship to Jesus Christ through one another.
“We learn more about God by learning more about each other and learning from each other. It’s that horizontal line that connects us to the vertical line; they intersect, and that’s the cross,” said Patrice Legoute, a seminarian at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
For Legoute, his World Youth Day experience reaffirmed his vocation to the priesthood.
“It teaches you and reminds you that the Church is not dead, that Christ is alive, and the Church is alive. It has been such a sincere and genuine affirmation of the priesthood,” he said.