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 CNS Story:

WYD-BROOKLYN Jul-23-2013 (440 words) xxxi

Brooklyn pilgrims arrive in Rio tired from flight, enthused about WYD

By Antonina Zielinska
Catholic News Service

RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) -- After an overnight flight, pilgrims from the Brooklyn Diocese landed July 22 in Rio de Janeiro, ready to start a full day of their World Youth Day pilgrimage.

"We are finally here, 224 strong," Auxiliary Bishop Frank J. Caggiano exclaimed during the welcoming Mass he concelebrated with Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio and priests from the diocese. "You have made us proud."

Bishop Caggiano said he could see the drowsiness on pilgrims' faces, and he acknowledged that fatigue was only the latest of the pilgrim's struggles. The bishop commended the youth for all the sacrifices they made to raise funds and prepare themselves for World Youth Day.

"It will not be easy, you will not get much sleep -- so get used to it," said Bishop Caggiano of the events, which kicked off July 23 and were to run through July 28. "We have to pray for perseverance."

At the end of Mass, Bishop DiMarzio echoed his thanks for their perseverance.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so take it seriously. I think you will," he said.

Salvatore Isabella, 19, of Immaculate Conception Parish in Astoria, N.Y., said the homily reminded him of all the sacrifices his parents made to send him on the pilgrimage. He said the chance to see Pope Francis motivated him.

"Our parish has been working for this through a cold winter and hot summers, but we are so excited to be here," said 16-year-old Katherine Reynoso of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Jamaica, N.Y. "I'm overwhelmed. I expected a lot of people, but I didn't expect so many people to be so enthusiastic and passionate."

The Brooklyn pilgrims traveled to the church by following flags, and en route they encountered pilgrims from around the world. At times, because of the arrival of Pope Francis from the Vatican, there were so many people in the street that it was hard to squeeze through the crowds and keep an eye on the flags.

Dwayne Taylor, 17, of Our Lady of Light Parish in St. Albans, N.Y., said he was surprised how peaceful the city was, despite the sudden influx of young people. He said he was happy that the crime dangers he was warned about before embarking on his pilgrimage seemed to be exaggerated.

Carolina Torres, 19, of St. Gerard Majella Parish in Hollis, N.Y., said there always seemed to be security concerns before a World Youth Day gathering, but the event always is successful.

"I think, with all the warnings of danger, we are here, we take care of each other and I think everything will be fine," she said.


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