Youths 'Behold the Lamb of God' at pilgrimage
BELMONT — Youths from around the Diocese of Charlotte saw firsthand how "with God all things are possible" as what started out as a soggy Saturday morning blossomed into a hot, sunny afternoon during the course of the Bishop's Lenten Youth Pilgrimage at Belmont Abbey College March 24.
Pictured: Bishop Peter Jugis gives Communion to Joseph Torres, a parishioner from St. Ann Church in Charlotte at Mass on March 26. (Photo by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)
Shortly after the 400-plus teens arrived at the day-long retreat, recent Belmont Abbey grad and Charlotte Catholic High School teacher turned emcee, Patrick Jacobeen, asked those gathered to pray for clearer skies for the day's events.
Just before Mass was celebrated by Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis, the sun broke through the clouds and the unusually warm spring weather made a comeback. Teens who had been kneeling on tarps and plastic trash can liners now found themselves in need of sunglasses and umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun.
In his homily, Bishop Jugis explained, "a pilgrimage is a time the Lord gives us to pray to come be with Him...If you want to be holy, as Jesus wants us all to be, then the greatest source of holiness is the Mass, the Eucharist. The Eucharist is important to us because Jesus is here with us, dwelling with us."
After Mass, the youths listened to keynote speaker Father David Miller, parochial vicar at St. Mark Church in Huntersville, who gave a dynamic talk on the Eucharist and how the physical and spiritual worlds are intertwined, illustrating how the physical world serves God's divine plan and points to His glory. "Jesus from all eternity knew He was going to give us the Eucharist. He designed food to be like the Eucharist," Father Miller said. "The Eucharist is the reality, the truth. When you receive Jesus in the Eucharist, He is actually making you stronger, healthier."
Other speakers included Doug Barry, co-host of EWTN's "Life on the Rock," and Marla Walsh, a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Charlotte who is a wife and mother of five.
Father Roger Arnsparger, vicar of education for the diocese and chair of the annual diocesan Eucharistic Congress, was pleased to see so many youths come from parishes around the diocese and was grateful for the leadership of the Belmont Abbey College students who ran the event.
"I am edified by the work of the college and the Entemeyer Scholars. Last night, the college students and young adults were here and were so excited about their identity and who they are and how they can support each other in building a culture of life and holiness. That's what this is about. It gives an identity to these young people who are going to continue to engage the culture with the message of the Gospel," he said.
The day concluded with Adoration and Benediction in the Wheeler Center, where Bishop Jugis processed with the Blessed Sacrament among rows of adorers kneeling on the gymnasium floor.
"The Real Presence is real, so consciously decide to place that Real Presence of Christ into your soul today to transform you and make you holy," Bishop Jugis said.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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