Jesuit Father Matthew Gamber, a veteran of the last four World Youth Days, has been in Spain for two weeks helping to lead a group of pilgrims from St. Mary’s Parish in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Fr. Gamber and his group arrived in Madrid on Monday after participating in Magis 2011, during which they were involved in evangelization, service and pilgrimages in various Spanish cities.
During Gamber’s time in Madrid for World Youth Day’s events, he will be filing reports and writing pieces for the National Catholic Register highlighting the activities which culminate this Sunday with Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
Gamber noted that on the eve of World Youth Day on Monday, that although some of the sites were still being prepared, there was a great spirit in the air.
The parishes and churches had welcome banners and signs on display and people outside offered tours, information and warm welcomes. “It’s not Rome, with a Catholic church on every corner, but pretty close, maybe every other corner. And they are beautiful and breathtaking and full of the Holy Spirit,” he wrote.
Madrid residents say they have never seen the city so crowded in August, according to Gamber. “At a time when most of the city dwellers take off for the beaches and mountains, it seems that the allure of seeing Pope Benedict in their fair city is worth staying in town for,” he wrote.
“It is exciting to be here and know that we are about to spend a week with fellow Catholic pilgrims from around the world,” Gamber wrote.