An experience of a life time - World Youth Day - Madrid Spain

World Youth Day - Madrid Spain - August 2011

Our movement both here in North-America and in Europe is very much focused on service, to help, to make a positive difference in the lives of others while growing ourselves as an individual and as a FSE/FNE family.

Running a WYD is no small feat... the logistic's, coordination, facilitation and more is a huge undertaking that requires many many hours of service and effort.

Our FSE movement stepped up and offered major support by bringing together better than 2,250 of our Wayfarer Explorers including two from Canada (Paul Kim and Eric Canario) and our General Commissioner for FNE Paul Ritchi.

(photo above as 2,250 of us gather for Mass)

From the moment that we arrived until the day we departed for home the heat and sun was relentless... after all you  are in Spain and it is the peak of the summer... with temperatures better then plus 40 degrees C with a steady hot and dry wind blowing.

What struck us most was the positive environment and the happy Wayfarer Explorers that we encountered every where we went.  From the moment of our arrival we felt part of a large and happy family... and when our brothers and sisters found out that we had come all the way from Canada boy where they ever excited and impressed and happy that we had come all that way.  During the final evening with the Pope a group of youth from Mexico came up to us as we carried around the Canadian flag and begged us to trade our Canadian flag representing the best country in the world (their words) for their home country flag - Mexico.  We gave them the Canadian flag... there went away rejoicing and so very happy!

Both Paul and Eric quickly linked up with an Italian Wayfarer Explorer Crew who took them under their wing and quickly involved them in the day to day activities of serving at WYD.

Early every day after morning Mass and breakfast the various teams set out by subway to their assigned locations in support of WYD from a security, crowd control, information booth, food handouts to pilgrims and much more.

The next set of photo's highlight some of the many many Wayfarer Explorers that we encountered... all happy and anxious to do their best, to make a positive difference!

The joy of service as witnessed in this video!

One morning all 2,250 of us got together for Holy Mass celebrated by an Archbishop (former FSE Religious International Leader) and no less then 25 Priests all active with FSE groups throughout Europe.  It was truly an amazing celebration of our faith.

Video of our special Mass for our members at our FSE campsite -

One evening we had Eucharistic Adoration... look at this picture... there is no logical explanation of the perfect red dot just above the Monstrance.... no reflections, no planet, no nothing... the blood of Jesus?

At long last the big day had arrived... we gathered along with many Pilgrims to await the arrival of the Holy Father - Pope Benedict 16th... we would not be disappointed....

On the Saturday evening of WYD we gathered at a large Air Force open field to await the arrival of the Holy Father.... estimated number to show up... 750,000 people, actual number of people who showed up estimated to be 1.5 M.  The logistic strain was massive, much overcrowding... yet our FSE brothers and sisters rose to the challenge to do their share of the work and even more... we hoisted our extra large FSE flag holding it up from one shoulder to another...

As the evening wore on the Holy Father arrived to address the pilgrims, but off in the distance a great storm cloud was building.... and we had no where to go... to get out of the elements... the wind started to pick up...

Paul Ritchi was in a large dome type structure the size of a hockey arena with an open end to participate in Eucharistic Adoration with about 1,000 other Pilgrims... there I was on my knees praying with others when the wind picked up and drove right into this structure... suddenly the wind tore apart the structure... large lights started to crash down from the ceiling some 30 M above us... the walls started to fall, the beams started to come crashing down as people raced out of the structure... yes some people where hurt but no one seriously... an amazing event...

(above - one of the structures that survived partially... as seen the next morning)

People started to run each and every way, panic broke out as the skies opened, the wind blew, lightening every where... as I got back to our designated FSE camp site the most amazing thing I saw... panic every where but not at our designated area... there was singing together of hymns, others praying the Rosary, all sharing what cover they could find.  We had 3 or 4 tents on the site... the owners of the tents stored peoples gear and got wet rather then just thinking of themselves... this says a lot about our FSE movement and our trust in the Lord and our ability to keep a cool head!

Even the Holy Father got wet as the wind blew... but he carried on with his talk and prayers while encouraging all present to have faith and not be afraid...


before his talk finished the rain stopped, the wind died down and the skies cleared.

Picture above... in the midst of the rain storm... clam in our FSE camp!

For more pictures please visit our album at:

Putting on a show for the Holy Father when he came to great many WYD/JMJ volunteers by our brother Wayfarer Explorers can be found at





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