Thursday, August 11, 2011

WYD through Alaskan eyes

Yep, it is Alaska’s Day at the Media Blog. An old USCCB friend and former staffer, Juneau Bishop Edward Burns shares how special the experience of World Youth Day will be for his diocese’s youth. He also is excited about being one of eight U.S. prelates who will be catechists in Madrid 2011.

It is a joy to have the three Dioceses of Alaska (Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau) join together in traveling together as a group to WYD.

The young people in the Diocese of Juneau live in some very remote places. Some of them have only experienced just a handful of other Catholic youth. For them, to gather with Catholic youth from around the diocese is great; to gather with Catholic youth from around the state of Alaska in our journey is grand; and to have a chance to celebrate a Mass with all the young pilgrims from around the United States will be fantastic. Then, for the youth of my diocese to have the opportunity to celebrate Mass with young people from around the world and with Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St. Peter – it will be priceless!

It is my hope that through all this, they understand the fact that even on a remote island in Alaska they are connected to a wider and universal Church. I pray that they will bring back to the villages this beautiful aspect of being Roman Catholic.

This will be my fourth WYD, but my first as a bishop. The three previous times were while I served at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. During those previous experiences, I organized vocation programs in which bishops participated. This year I have been asked to be a catechist during WYD, and I am excited about this as a new experience for me.

I am aware that approximately 30 percent of the men ordained to the priesthood every year have participated in WYD. This is just one illustration that the Spirit is alive and that Christ still calls – especially as the young people come into contact with God’s presence as we celebrate Mass with the pope.

+Bishop Edward J. Burns
Diocese of Juneau, Alaska

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