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In the beginning

…there was a 16 hour stay at the Pittsburgh airport.

We kicked off what we thought would be our final hours on US soil with Mass at St. Joe’s followed by a bonfire at the Sanders’ house. There was beer & a trampoline, but Matt tells that story best.

By about 4 a.m. on Sunday July 13, 2008, we were assembled at the airport, waiting to check our luggage & find our way to the gate. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6 a.m. When we arrived at the gate, I was excited & surprised to see Bishop Zubik there. He and many of the seminarians were going to be on our plane too!

6 a.m. came and went. We were told that it was taking longer than expected to load our food onto the plane. Then we were told they wanted to add some more fuel. We finally boarded, probably around 8 a.m. only to wait for about an hour while they redistributed some fuel from one tank to another… and then it happened. We were asked to leave the plane. Fuel was leaking and a part was going to have to be ordered.

The flight crew went home… we knew we were in for a long wait.

Bishop Zubik had Mass with all 425 of us at about 11 a.m. & afterwards told us that it looked like we probably wouldn’t be leaving until 8 p.m. (our “last hours” became our “last day”) A talent show scheduled for 3 p.m. was announced, too. In the mean time, the Bishop & several priests heard confessions, many people napped under the chairs at the concourse, others played cards, Saw, frisbee, hacky sack… we sang & prayed, too. It was something of a “retreat before the pilgrimage” except without amazing food. The airline provided us with $20 each in meal vouchers, but it just wasn’t quite the same as the catering we’ve had at various retreats.

The talent show was a lot of fun. The majority of the participants were (no surprises!) from the St. Joe’s/St. Mary’s contingent. Skits included “Down with the Sickness,” “The Candy Store,” and “The Lawnmower.” Levi, Sarah & Rebecca played & sang “Cast Your Burdens” and an original song called “Lord You’re Movin'” and Dan did what Dan does best… he solved the Rubix cube in less than a minute. People from other groups sang songs and juggled. My favorites were probably the group from Natrona Heights who wrote a song about our delay and the Bishop & the seminarians singing in Latin.

Our delay was big news! It was covered by KDKA (if you search their video archive you can find a few interviews, too! Hat-tip to Mrs. R. for the info), WPXI, and WTAE as well as the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review. You’ll notice in the stories that some of the details change depending on the reporter, but the basics are the same: A lot of ‘Burghers had to wait a LONG time before we started our journey to be with hundreds of thousands of Catholics from around the world and celebrate Mass with the Pope.

Also worth a mention: Mrs. E. found this blog that was updated periodically through the trip by someone who traveled with us but remained anonymous as “great-gramps.” GG caught a few good pictures of some of our crew hanging out at the airport and later at the Mass with all the pilgrims from the US.

author’s note: hopefully Matt will jump in with some of his thoughts & insights on the trip… look for those to start probably Thursday at the earliest. I’ll be blogging about the trip in small pieces, hopefully to make it more manageable to read and also to write about. Pictures are up on facebook but I need to go through them all again before I upload them here… after that I’ll start adding pictures to all the blog entries for the trip

Back from Down Under

We got home last night at about midnight… lots to tell! There will be more blogging in the coming week. Pictures will also appear soon. Some are being uploaded to Amy’s facebook so check there first, but they’ll be in the regular albums on this site later after we’ve had time to sort through & organize them. Amy picks up the cats in the morning & we’re just praying they’re not too mad about being left behind, especially considering we traveled to see Ratzi’s namesake ;)

Congratulations Sam!!

100% Bliss

We had a send-off Mass for WYD with our amazing awesome Bishop tonight! The whole thing was just fantastic! Our group got to sit in the first two pews so we had a really great view of everything that goes on when the Bishop says Mass :) I just can’t say enough how wonderful it was to be at that particular celebration of the Eucharist.

Bishop Zubik gave us some *very* interesting statistics during his homily. Apparently, other than the dioceses in Australia, Pittsburgh is sending more people (roughly 600) to WYD this year than any other diocese in the WORLD! This is largely thanks to the amazing generosity of our sponsors, Youthtowne, and its founders. There are 475 in the Youthtowne group alone, then there are some other parishes that organized their own trips separately.

After Mass, the Bishop hung around & took pictures with people & autographed our booklets. He even let a few people (Matt included) from our little group hold his staff :)

We just got back because 14 of us stopped to get something to eat on the way home… for those of you familiar with the Pittsburgh area, we went to King’s and ordered an Angry Mob (12 Frownie Brownies and 12 scoops of ice cream). Wasn’t hard to eat because of how many we had in our group but it was FUN! And we have posters. I said we need to laminate one & mount it on a pole of some sort to carry around at WYD so we can easily identify where our group should be ;)

Two weeks from today, we’ll be in Sydney, Australia!!

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