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Amazing Race for Grace Print E-mail

09-30-amazing_race_for_grace.jpgOn September 30th, 2007, the Czestochowa youth group gathered together and got on a bus headed for the Amazing Race for Grace, held in Philadelphia. The purpose of this event was to celebrate the 200th year of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, while also celebrating the Catholic faith, history, and culture in this area through the Holy Eucharist. This great day was divided into three parts: the opening kickoff, the scavenger hunt itself, and the Festival and closing Mass.

The opening ceremonies were held in the "Mother Church" of the diocese, the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul. As the different groups gathered inside the oldest, most massive, solidly beautiful basilica I have ever seen, the long, exciting day began. Amazingly, the entire church was completely filled with families and youth groups! The leaders of the groups and various coordinators of the event spoke from time to time to get us all "pumped up" for the scavenger hunt. One coordinator announced that Cardinal Rigali had decided on a plenary indulgence for those who prayed for the Pope's intentions and went to confession and Mass that day. Benediction halfway through was a decidedly nice touch on the part of the organizers. Opening concluded, we left the basilica, blinking in the bright sunlight.

Thus began the next part of this great day, the Philadelphia scavenger hunt. Our group received number 23, and properly numbered and named, the Czestochowa group received the first clue, solved it, and set off. (Unfortunately, the sites chosen for us seemed the farthest possible distance apart on the map; however this in no way detracted from the fun of seeing the city.) The places we visited were wonderful and added a great sense of history and perspective to our day. St. Andrew’s in Northern Philadelphia was the first stop, a neat little church with some exquisite stained glass windows. The priest who showed us around told us that the church was the fifth largest in the city when it was built; I, amazed, wondered if some people worshiped in closets at that time! Next came Hallahan Girls’ High School; we were given a quiz about high schools in Pennsylvania and did rather poorly, but one of our chaperones eventually turned the tables with some questions about homeschoolers that left our guides stumped. Continuing our quest, we came to Logan Square; here an extra challenge involving the information on statues scattered around the area was exciting and not easily solved. Lastly, we came to St. John's Hospice for homeless men, where a daily meal is served, people getting back on their feet can stay for a while, and unhealthy or injured men can be taken care of until they are well. We all enjoyed walking around the city in the warm September sunshine; thankfully it was a beautiful fall day. All in all, our scavenger hunt was entertaining and fun.

At last, we handed in our number and took off for the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where the festival, our grand finale, was going on. As soon as we got off the bus, it was evident that food, fun, and games were in plentiful supply. First, we went to confession, fulfilling the second requirement of our indulgence. Following our increasingly demanding stomachs, we wandered through the food tents and sampled a little of everything. After we ate, the group split up, some of us participating in a game of volleyball that was rapidly escalating into a fullfledged volleyball war, others sitting and talking, a few taking in the sights. Finally came the peak of the whole day: Mass in front of the Seminary. Former Cardinal Bevilacqua concelebrated with Cardinal Rigali. The celebration of the Eucharist began as the sun set right behind the seminary, providing an awe-inspiring backdrop to the Mass. What a wonderful way to end this long, awesome day in Philadelphia.

Speaking for the youth group of Czestochowa, we really enjoyed the Amazing Race for Grace. The opening, hunt, and festival were all well-planned and exciting. Thank you to Fr. Tad, our spiritual director, and Mrs. Domanico, who got us to Philadelphia on time. Also, thank you to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for hosting this event, and to the organizers, for creating a fun, informative, and entertaining day to remember.

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