Pancakes pave the way for a papal pilgrimage Youth group raises funds for Denver trip

July 18, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

If Theresa M. Robinson doesn't see doughnuts, pancakes and pizzas or smell sizzling sausage for a while, that's OK with her.

In February, 13 teen-age members of the youth group at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster made the commitment to be part of the pilgrimage to participate in World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II in Denver on Aug. 13. Since then Ms. Robinson, who is director of religious education at St. John, and the Rev. Dave Pietropaoli, youth group director, have been helping them raise money for the trip.

"I don't think I can eat another pancake or sausage," Ms. Robinson said. "Even though we organized the events, the kids carried them out. They were tremendous."

The group's initial goal was to raise $8,000; so far they have raised $9,000.

The teen-agers will depart Aug. 10 for Denver from Baltimore-Washington International Airport with chaperons Mr. Pietropaoli, Ms. Robinson and Joseph Rankin.

"The parents really wanted to see St. John represented, and they've offered tremendous support," Ms. Robinson said. "The Knights of Columbus focused all of their fund-raising attention on getting our youth to Denver."

The pope will come to Denver after visiting Jamaica and Mexico, and will return to Rome after his U.S. visit.

Once they arrive in Denver, the youngsters will spend two days hiking in the Rockies before seeing the pope for the first time Aug. 13 when he conducts the stations of the cross.

The following night at Cherry Creek State Park near the city, an all-night silent vigil begins with participants meditating and the pope occasionally saying a prayer. The area will be illuminated

only by the candles and flashlights of the pilgrims.

World Youth Day ends Sunday morning, when the pope says Mass to the pilgrims.

According to a spokesman for World Youth Day Inc., which is sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C., 153,000 teen-agers from around the world will be attending.

For Sandy Geiman, 16, the daughter of Dave and Judy Geiman of Westminster, that's one of the reasons to be excited about going on the trip.

"I'm not sure that I'll ever have the opportunity to see the pope again," said Sandy, who will be a junior at Westminster High School this fall. "Also, the possibility of an awakening from

people with a common faith who have gotten together from all over the world is very exciting to me."

Ms. Robinson said the group is hoping for an audience with the pope. "But I'm not so sure how feasible that will be," she said.

"I think it's really neat," said Sarah Cruz, 16, who will also be a junior at Westminster High in the fall. "For all of us in the youth group, having this experience with the pope will certainly get us closer to God."

Sarah is the daughter of Agusto and Nancy Cruz of Westminster. She hopes to be a therapist one day, working with children.

"The kids who have chosen to go are wonderful," Ms. Robinson said. "They are leaders, they're in touch with themselves, and they're looking for answers. These are the kinds of events that can change a teen-ager's life, and I'm sure they will come home changed after this experience."

She added that there will be time for socialization, trading items, fellowship and even a dance.

"There is so much negative news about the Catholic Church," Ms. Robinson said. "I hope that this will help put aside some of those assumptions about the church."

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