The journey to Portugal has been a long one, but we finally made it!
The first day, we left Westminster Cathedral early in the morning meeting all our fellow pilgrims. We are a diverse group from across the Diocese, but we quickly clicked together as a team, ready to spend the next two weeks together. See more photos from our travels here.
Our journey has been marked by prayer, led by our diocesan youth chaplain, Fr Mike Guthrie. Many of our pilgrims have also been involved in leading the Rosary, the Angelus and the daily office, as we made the long journey from Westminster Cathedral to Tours. After getting the ferry across from Dover, we broke up the time playing games and learning about where we are going, ably driven by Stephen.
Arriving in Tours, we stayed overnight before making the next leg of the journey to Valladolid.
We started the morning of the second day by praying the morning prayer after a breakfast in the hotel lounge. As we traveled to Valladolid, the opportunity to have confession on the breaks was made available by Fr Mike. To keep us entertained, we had different activities on the coach such as a Gregorian chant workshop and talks on the history of the English Seminary in Valladolid. This seminary was set up by the Spanish Crown to train Catholic priests who went on to England despite the persecutions, many of whom went on to be martyred. There was also a quiz to brush up our knowledge on Portuguese culture, run by some of our pilgrims.
During the breaks, we also started bumping into other groups traveling to World Youth Day, including some Capuchin friars from Italy, and the group from the Diocese of Brentwood.
This was the longest day traveling so when we reached Valladolid, everyone took the opportunity to rest.
Our third day started with Mass at the English College which saw the two dioceses, Westminster and Brentwood, come together. It was celebrated by Fr Mike, Fr Paschal Uche and Fr Dominic Howarth. Fr Paschal preached the homily around how good the Lord has been to us and how we must use this opportunity in the World Youth Day to be closer to God and build our relationship with Him. He challenged the pilgrims to be welcoming to the new people we meet on our journey to World Youth Day as Mother Teresa was, saying that she saw Jesus in the sick and helped them. Those are the traits we should aspire to possess if we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
After Mass, we had a tour in the English College led by Brandon, one of the diocesan seminarians who attended the college.
After some free time, we got on the coach for the final journey to Portugal.
After a long drive we were welcomed to Amarante in Porto by George, our guide. He introduced us to the host families who took us to their homes, where our pilgrims stayed overnight, relieved to be in Portugal and anticipating what the next fortnight would bring.
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