By DAN ETHRIDGE
Special to The New Vision
Three Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were joined by three faculty members and 23 students from Tucson’s Immaculate Heart High School at the World Youth day events in Madrid, Spain last month.
Besides the high school participants, St. Mark Parish had nine members and Douglas had four members, for a total of 44 participants. The 12-day adventure was directed by Sister Evelyn Soto, who has spent much time there and has total understanding of the city and event. A big “THANK YOU” to Sister Evelyn for taking care of every detail.
Our group stayed at Colegio Corazon Inmaculando, an Immaculate Heart School in Madrid. The most difficult adjustment was the nine-hour time difference! Our guide for the event was Miguel, a 4th grade teacher at the Madrid school, and a couple of families and alumni.
On this trip, our group became immersed in the culture of España with many tours of palaces, cathedrals, parks and other towns of Toledo and El Escorial. Sister Evelyn had arranged privileges for our group and we were able to be part of the welcoming and departure group for the Holy Father. This was incredible because most other times we were part of the million and a half people from around the world competing for sights and front rows.
On Saturday at “The Night Under the Stars,” Pope Benedict inspired the audience with his refusal to come in out of the rain, stating: “If they (the people) stay then I stay”. All week we listened to great speeches, had daily Mass and rosaries. (Thank you, Father Robert Rodriguez.)
Our students made many friends from all over the world, traded flags and bracelets, learned how to deal with the Euro, walked for miles, and ate unusual foods. Sister Alice and Sister Sylvia, from Miami, appeared to have the most laughs and seemed to enjoy the young people the most. There was a definite increase in the spirituality and holiness of all that attended. Our group was complimented many times on their good behavior and open spirituality.
The next World Youth Day Event will happen in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. If you are interested and over the age of 16 by 2013, I would highly recommend that you consider the trip. That many young people coming together and praying all at once has to have some effect on heaven’s doors.
Dan Ethridge is the principal of Immaculate Heart High School.