SPRINGFIELD , Ohio – The opportunity to travel to Europe, meet young people from around the world and attend the first mass outside of Vatican City ever led by Pope Benedict XVI is rare indeed. For Wittenberg University senior Anna Finkelstein, opportunity knocked, and she answered by attending the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, Aug. 16-21.
Finkelstein of Whitehall, Mich., class of 2006, joined more than a million young people from all parts of the globe at the weeklong event, which provided an opportunity for young people to gather and attend numerous different activities designed to help them celebrate their faith. World Youth Day occurs every two or three years, each time in a different country, and this year’s event marked the 20 th such celebration.
After attending the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto, Finkelstein was eager to attend World Youth Day again.
“I had a great experience in Toronto and decided to go to the 2005 World Youth Day,” Finkelstein said. “I also found out that my diocese was going to help pay for it, so it was going to be pretty reasonable in cost.” O ne of only two people from her church to attend the 2005 World Youth Day, Finkelstein traveled with about 100 young people from her diocese in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“The best part of attending World Youth Day was meeting and seeing people from all over the world,” Finkelstein said. “Last summer I studied in Senegal, and this summer I was able to meet more people from Senegal at the event.”
Throughout her week in Germany, Finkelstein attended various related events, including an opening mass led by Pope Benedict XVI, his first outside of Vatican City since taking over the papacy earlier this year after the passing of Pope John Paul II. Finkelstein also attended smaller group worship sessions led by cardinals from different countries.
In addition, she found time for sight-seeing in and around the historic city of Cologne, attended World Youth Day concerts, which featured an eclectic mix of bands performing everything from rock to classical music, and tasted a range of international foods at several different picnics.
“I feel like one thing I probably got out of World Youth Day was a greater sense of global community and an affirmation of what I believe,” Finkelstein said. “Just seeing all these people coming together from all over the world who believe in similar things as me was really cool.”
- Leslie Banas '06