[JMJ 97 - Le Cyberjournal]

" Finally, we've made it ! "

THOUSANDS of WYD travellers converged on Paris, France this morning and afternoon to begin the week-long World Youth Days celebrations. Buses conveyed travellers into the capital city from all corners of France where some pilgrims had arrived as early as last Sunday. Parishes in Brittany, in Provence, Alsace and many more welcomed delegations from all over the world for several days before seeing them off to Paris for the second leg of the event. Others arrived directly in Paris at Roissy and Orly airports or at one of Paris's 6 main train stations.

Faces expressed mostly excitement as a lot of the young pilgrims discovered flying for the first time, or discovered Europe and the city of Paris.

One young man arriving from Rome said he was"amazed" that he has actually arrived after so much worry about accomodations and travel arrangements. Friends of his arriving separately were eager to meet up with him, but in the thrill of the moment he could only look around and try to take in the fact that everything was going much more smoothly than he had expected.

Joy and confidence

Many of those staying in PAris have been invited into people's homes for the week. Jubilatio was able to contact a few families to ask what WYD meant for them. " It's a wonderfully joyful and hopeful experience, " said one family housekeeper. " My one wish is that all these young people will feel that they really belong to Jesus Christ and that they will be a sign for each other that they are not alone. " " Life isn't all that easy in this world, and there are many sad things to see " said one lady from the 6th arrondissement. " But I hope these young believers will learn to look at this world and see that there are beautiful things in it too. "

Getting to know each other better

Another lady who lives in the north-west of Paris said she felt she was getting to know her own neighbours better. A welcoming Mass celebrated by Mgr Favreau, bishop of Nanterre, brought together families who were lodging young people, as well as several French men and women part of the volunteer corps. " It was a beautiful liturgy, and it made me realize that something was knitting us together, or rather someone. I mean Christ. " Another expressed the hope that young people would learn to trust in Christ in order to see more clearly what kind of life they would choose for themselves. " I have confidence in their generosity and in their great desire to create a better world than the one we're giving them. "

Paul-Dominique Masiclat