- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 31, 2005

Young Catholics filled St. Peter’s Church in Waldorf, Md., yesterday as part of their preparation for an upcoming European pilgrimage of 700 young Washington-area Catholics.

“It will be a great experience,” said Kevin Joy, a 16-year-old student from Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville.

“This will be my first time,” said Monsignor John Pennington, 52, who presided over noon Mass at St. Peter’s and will be among the oldest chaperones on the pilgrimage.

More than 450 young Catholics from the Archdiocese of Washington and 200 from the Diocese of Arlington will fly away Aug. 9 to travel through Rome, holy sites in Italy, and the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

From Aug. 16 to 21, they will attend World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Pope John Paul II created World Youth Day in 1985.

“Sometimes things are of so much greater magnitude that it takes awhile for the scope of it to settle in,” said Ben Kaczmarski, 25, who will return for his fourth year of Immaculate Conception seminary studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

“I’ve never seen the pope before,” said Andrew Royals, 25. “This is definitely an honor element.”

The Washington-area pilgrims are members of the Church of the Nativity, Our Lady Queen of the Americas and St. Augustine Church in the District; St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood, Md.; St. James in Mount Rainier; St. Margaret of Scotland in Seat Pleasant; St. Martin in Gaithersburg; St. Rafael in Rockville and St. Peter’s.

The Virginia churches and schools represented include All Saints Parish of Manassas, St. Louis Parish in Alexandria, St. Anthony Parish in Falls Church, St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, St. William of York Parish in Stafford, Blessed Sacrament Parish in Alexandria, Mary Washington College, Marymount University and University of Virginia.

More than 23,000 young pilgrims and 70 bishops from the United States will attend World Youth Day. It will be the first for Pope Benedict XVI to attend. Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick will be there.

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