Letter on World Youth Day

Author: Peter Mirus

August 20, 1993

Dear Fellow Young People in Christ,

For those of you who attended the World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado, no description of the events and moments of those days will be possible or needed. During and after the trip I have read many newspapers concerning those few days we spent in Pilgrimage with the pope. Reading through them, I discovered that every columnist, Catholic or not, biased or favorable towards the Pope's visit, openly admitted that they could not describe the extreme and seemingly complete joy that they experienced in us and through us, the Catholic youth of the United States of America! Nor can I.

Therefore, the main part of this column is dedicated to those youth who were unable to attend the World Youth Day in Denver. I hope that I will be able to convey to you at least a small part of the joy we experienced during our time with the Holy Father.

The first time I saw the Pope was after an exhausting 2000 mile trip across the United States, when I was lucky enough to be allowed inside Denver's Mile High Stadium for the Papal Welcome. I understand that at least 90,000 people were packed inside it for this occasion. I remember that when the helicopters started to arrive, bringing the Pope into our midst, the people in the stadium erupted with joy. I have never heard so much noise in my whole life. It was not a type of noise that you will experience at a baseball or football game. It was the noise of total joy and elation. It was the noise of people of all the continents.

I had met people from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Poland, United Germany, Vietnam, Liechtenstein, Belgium, the Low Countries, Australia, England, Canada, Italy, Greece, the Scandinavian countries, Portugal, and France, not to mention my fellow Americans. These were only a few of the youth who represented at least 47 foreign countries. All loved the pope and welcomed him as one body, "One Body in Christ." Everybody joined in the song and dance of all different cultures to welcome the Pope. Then the Pope entered the stadium. The people who covered the stands and field of the stadium welcomed the pope as one body, all 47 countries in different languages, but all speaking, shouting, singing the language of our faith, the language of love! We welcomed him as a symbol of our faith, as a man holy beyond all others, a man closer to God than every person we had ever known. And we did know him, each one of us personally, because the grace of God and his personal love for each one of us poured though him, Pope John Paul the Second. All the people were saying the same thing: "We love John Paul II. We love the Pope."

In his speech, he spoke to us as a group and at the same time to each of us directly! He too was speaking the language of love. And as he spoke and as we cheered his every phrase, tears of joy fell from our eyes and his--symbolizing our love of him and our faith, and his and Christ's love for each one of us. It was magnificent! While the pope was speaking, it began to rain, but we stayed to hear the words of Christ spoken through the pope, the vicar of Christ, and the successor of Peter. As he blessed us near the end of the welcome, a huge double rainbow appeared over that end of the stadium and the rain stopped! I heard one stadium worker say, " The rain itself is a blessing. We don't get it around here to often."

The next and final event I will choose to describe was the Papal mass. Again as one body we welcomed the pope at Cherry Creek Park. This time there were well over 500,000 people there to see him. The mass was spectacular, and the Pope spoke of his love for us, of Christ's love for us, of our mission as the Catholic youth of the world to be "proud of the gospel" and spread the Catholic Faith. He also spoke of the evils of abortion, euthanasia, and contraception. His words were cheered again and again, and when he said "I am afraid that I have spoken too long" a resounding NO! rose from the crowd. The entire crowd shouted " We love you, John Paul II! " and clapped in unison. Then we all knelt as he blessed us and our religious items, feeling the oneness of ourselves with the pope through Jesus Christ.

If before we didn't fully believe in the Faith, in Christ's love for us and of our unity in Christ, we believed it now. Everything that we had doubted in our faith was now beautifully confirmed. Everything we had gone through to see the Pope was now made more than worthwhile. It was the happiest few days of our lives: experiencing our common love of God, our faith, and the pope, along with our love for one another! It was an experience we shall hold in our memories for our whole lives, memories that we shall keep in our journals, our pictures, and in our minds and hearts. We bless God for our opportunity to see and be with the pope; we shall never forget it.

I have done my best to convey to you the two most emotional experiences of my own. Each one's personal experiences and memories may be different. But I hope you will now know at least to the smallest degree what it was like to be with the Pope in Denver.

United with you in Christ, Peter Mirus Manassas, Virginia, USA