Saturday, 2:15 PM
Pope Benedict XVI is now out at St. Joseph's Seminary, in the Dunwoodie section of Yonkers, where he is attending a rally with thousands of seminarians and young people. Globe reporter Michael Levenson is there, too, and sends this report:
From a distance, the rally resembled a rock concert -- tens of thousands of youth gathered in a sun-splashed field. They were packed in elbow-to-elbow in many places. There were concession stands selling chicken fingers and French fries and bottled water. The teens were splayed out on towels and beach blankets. They wore T-shirts emblazoned with messages such as "JC Rules" and "Christ Our Hope."
They all faced a giant concert-style stage set. The stage was framed by two Jumbotron-style screens, two giant white flags printed with the Vatican seal. And the stage was backed by a giant portrait of Christ ascending, giving off rays of light.
The teens danced and sang as musical acts performed. They included the Rev. Stan Fortuna, a Fransciscan friar who played electric guitar, sang Catholic-themed pop songs and led the exuberant crowd in chants of "Benedetto! Benedetto!" and "Christ Our Lord! Christ Our Lord!" The MC was the comedian Mo Rocca, who had audience members cheer when he called out their countries -- Czech Republic! El Salvador! The biggest star was American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who performed her hits as well a spiritual number called "Up To The Mountain."
"It's really empowering to see youth -- especially from across the nation come together for a cause," said Sarah Doyle, 18, of Worcester, Mass., who was one of 45 Boston University students who made the pilgrimage to the event in matching red T-shirts. "Especially as a freshman, it's very encouraging."
"It's such a blessing to see that our church is this strong," said Leo Gameng, 21, a BU junior from Chicago. "All the young people here are showing we believe in our God and our Heavenly Father."
"It's packed for the right reason," said Veronica Checo, 18, of Brooklyn, who was with a group of Brooklyn youth all wearing T-shirts that read "Too Blessed to Be Stressed." Her friend, Tito Gary, nodded and chimed in, "Packed for Christ,"
"It's amazing. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience right now. It's so many people joining together. It's wonderful," said Jen Churik, 17, of Long Island.
As the crowd waited for Benedict, the Jumbotron screens showed an educational video about Catholic teachings on marriage.
At 5:15 p.m, the pope arrived, ferried in the popemobile around the perimeter of the field. As organ music filled the air, the youngsters cheered and waved yellow and white kerchiefs -- the Vatican colors. The pope smiled and waved at the youth, many of whom ran to the edge of the field to get close to the popemobile.
posted by Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
For all the blog posts on the papal visit, go here.
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