Stats for August 2011

Despite my two-week absence from the blogosphere, the past month managed to see 3,779 page views. It’s the lowest total since December, sure, but it goes to show that I can be away from the blog for a while without numbers plummeting completely into the single digits. In the top 10 of most popular posts we’ll see which topics are responsible for the continuing interest.

Another high point this month was the crossing of the 100,000 threshold. In fact, on the same day that I returned from Spain, 23 August, the 100,000th visitor since January 2010 popped by. It’s only numbers, but it still makes me pleased.

One to the top 10!

1: A priest never walks alone 72
2: Het probleem Medjugorje 61
3: Calling in the bishop 38
4: Blog shutting down. Temporarily, that is & Seculiere deskundigen willen dat de paus zijn beleid aanpast. Hoe kunnen we uitleggen dat hij dat niet kan? 27
5: Double duty: two vicars general for Groningen-Leeuwarden & WYD destinations – Zaragoza & Goodbye, we’ll keep in touch (via social media) 26
6: No refusal allowed for civil servants in Groningen 25
7: Two years in the making, a new archbishop for Luxembourg 24
8: World Youth Days on TV, and my personal blogging plans & Oddie continues where Dolan stopped & The departure begins… 23
9: Congratulations to a Philippine bishop 20
10: Archbishop Dolan explains the Vatican 19

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The departure begins…

Today, Friday 5 August, the great exodus has begun. Or, in less dramatic words, the first diocesan group has left for the World Youth Days in Spain. It is the first of several travel initiatives from the Diocese of Roermond, and their first destination will be Lisieux. Over the course of the next five days, other groups will follow. All dioceses will have organised trips, and so have many others, such as religious communities, individual parishes and movements.

Two days from now, on 7 August, the Dioceses of Groningen-Leeuwarden and Breda will depart, the first for Lisieux, the second for Taizé. On the next day, while these dioceses are at their initial destinations, the aformentioned group from Roermond will be at St. Bernadette in Nevers, and the Dioceses of Rotterdam and Paramaribo, travelling together, will head south for a sight-seeing tour of France.

On 9 August, the Roermond group will be in Lourdes, while the young pilgrims from the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch will have a two-day prep weekend.

On 10 August, the groups from the Archdiocese of Utrecht (which includes yours truly)  and the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam will leave the Netherlands, the Breda and Groningen-Leeuwarden groups will be in Lourdes. The Haarlem-Amsterdam group will arrive in Taizé on the same day.

On the 11th, the ‘s Hertogenbosch pilgrims will have completed their preparations and travel south, while most of the other groups will be arriving in their host dioceses for the Days in the Diocese. Breda, Rotterdam and Paramaribo will be in the Diocese of Calahorra y La  Calzada Logroño, Utrecht and Groningen-Leeuwarden in the Archdiocese of Zaragoza, and Roermond in Avila.

On the 12th of August, more pilgrims from Roermond will arrive in Avila by plane. The group from Haarlem-Amsterdam will arrive in their host diocese of Urgel. They won’t be spending their Days in the Diocese in Spain, but in Andorra. The group from ‘s Hertogenbosch, then, will arrive in The Archdiocese of Toledo.

On the 15th all groups will head towards Madrid, arriving on the same day. They’ll join in with other travellers from all over the world until the closing Mass of the World Youth Days 2011. Some will head home on that last day, others will stay in Madrid a day longer or even visit other destinations in Spain before heading home.

WYD destinations – Zaragoza

On 10 August I, and some 100 other young people, will depart Utrecht to head south to Spain. Our destination: the World Youth Days in Madrid. Along the way to the ultimate celebration of faith, hope and love that is the vigil and Mass with people from all over the globe and united with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, we will stop at various places. The first is the Archdiocese of Zaragoza, where we will take part in the so-called Days in the Diocese as preparation for the actual WYD, which starts on 16 August.

The Archdiocese of Zaragoza is indicated in dark green on this map

The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Zaragoza is one of Spain’s 71 dioceses, archdioceses and other circumscriptions. It is an ancient diocese, tracing its history back to the 5th century, when it was named for Caesar Augustus. In 1318 it became an archdiocese.

As a metropolitan archdiocese it has four suffragan dioceses, indicated in light green on the map to the left: Barbastro-Monzón, Huesca, Tarazona and Teruel y Albarracín.

The city of Zaragoza, from which the archdiocese takes its name, is located on the Ebro river, and so is the cathedral church, the Catedral de El Salvador de la Seo. Zaragoza also has a co-cathedral, the Catedral Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, located just a few hundred meters upriver from the cathedral. This Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is built on the site where the Apostle St. James the Great saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin in the year 40, even before her assumption into heaven. Subsequently, the place, tradition has it, became the site for the first church in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Centrepiece of the basilica is the small wooden statue of the Virgin, given to the Apostle with the instruction to build a church in her honour.

Our Lady of the Pillar

Together with young pilgrims from Poland and Italy, we will be the guests of the clergy and faithful of the city and archdiocese. There will be cultural and spiritual events, in and around the city and in the co-cathedral. Just before our departure for Madrid, Archbishop Manuel Ureña Pastor is expected to offer Mass for us all, quite likely in concelebration with clergy from the archdiocese and from our own groups.

Archbishop Manuel Ureña Pastor, 66, who came to the see of Zaragoza in 2005 after having headed three other dioceses - Ibiza, Alcalá de Henares and Cartagena - since his consecration in 1988

The five Days in the Diocese will be neatly divided in events for smaller and larger groups, as well as major events for all pilgrims. Among the latter will be a Christian art festival on the next to last day. The archdiocese offers a word of welcome and a schedule.