Santiago de Chile (Fides Service) – United with Catholics all over the world in celebrations to mark the 25th year of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate some 100.000 Chilean youth will make a pilgrimage on Saturday 25 October, the 13th Pilgrimage to Santa Teresa de los Andes. This year the young pilgrims are offering their prayers and little sacrifices in thanksgiving to God for this Pope to whom they are deeply attached. The Youth Pilgrimage is organised by the archdiocese of Santiago. Since the first pilgrimage in 1990 which had 7,000 participants the number has grown and has now reached the 100,000 mark.
Father Galo Fernández, Vicar of the Vicaria of “Young Hope”, explained the objective of the Pilgrimage to Santa Teresa de los Andes: “Ten years ago Pope John Paul II held up St Teresa de Los Andes as an example of holiness for the world. Today he is celebrating these 25 years at the service as Head of the Church. We offer the prayers on this pilgrimage for the health and ministry of this great Friend of young people and Teresita. A pilgrimage is a sign of our condition as pilgrims towards eternal life. We walk together and we share our love for Jesus and his Gospel.”
The pilgrim organisers arrange a group of animators to lead prayers and reflection. Along the way the young pilgrims encounter stations, or halt points, where songs, signs and slogans will help them on their way: their aim is to be pilgrims, disciples and apostles of hope. On arriving at the Shrine which is 27 km from Santiago, they will visit the crypt where the body of Santa Teresa de Los Andes is preserved and then watch some artistic displays. The day will conclude with Mass at 5.30 presided by Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, Archbishop of Santiago del Cile and President of CELAM, Council of Latin American Bishops’ Conference who has just returned from Rome where he took part in celebrations for the Holy Father’s Silver Jubilee. (R.Z.) (Fides Service 24/10/2003 – lines 25; words 349)