by Luke Ebener
We were awaken at 6:15am Sunday morning by the testing of microphones over the loud speaker. Our bodies were sore and tired as for some reason you just don't sleep that well when 2.5 million other pilgrims are around you sleeping outside in the same field. You never would have guessed it from the insane amount of joy, energy, and enthusiasm as we all celebrated our Catholic faith together in the closing mass with Pope Francis as chants filled the air and flags from all countries filled the sky.
I've had the honor of being on pilgrimage with people from the Diocese of Des Moines the last week and I have to say you're getting a different group of people than those that left. We've encountered the Lord and changed. We've walked dozens of miles in sun and rain together. We've been bathed in Christ mercy and spent hours in prayer about how He wants us to be missionaries of mercy.
At the prayer vigil pope Francis challenged us to build the simplest of bridges by truly shaking the hands of people. He also mentioned that our Lord is a lord of risks. Des Moines, I thank you for your prayers, but as they say be careful what you pray for! A group of 60 joyful, risk taking, hand shaking, gospel spreading, young people are about to return to your cities and parishes. Be ready to witness Christ mercy through them and be prepared to be changed by it. May God bless you all.