But it was the feeling in the air combined with his strong faith that really captured him.
The 23-year-old St. Jude the Apostle parishioner in Lewes and former Cape Henlopen teacher was brimming with joy in describing his weeklong visit with more than a million young people from around the globe.
“Just walking down the street, there’s such an amazing outpouring from all over the world,” Brady said in an Aug. 3 telephone interview from Portugal. “That’s been fulfilling for me because I can tell I’m not alone, but I can also go back and have an impact on my little corner of the world.
“Just a hopeful feeling that all these people are going to go back and have a positive impact on their communities as well.”
The University of Delaware graduate has been living in Lewes while he taught at Cape Henlopen, but he’s joining the Peace Corps and headed to the Philippines in September where he’ll teach English. He said his Catholic faith is very important to him.
“It would be cliché to say that it’s the most important thing in my life but it certainly is,” Brady said. “I just feel very strongly about my Catholic identity. I’m very proud to be Catholic and all the traditions we have and culture surrounding the Catholic church. I couldn’t imagine myself being an individual outside a Catholic community. It just makes me feel like who I am.”
Attending the welcome ceremony Aug. 3 for Pope Francis was exciting. The pontiff’s speech in Spanish limited Brady to recognizing a couple of words, but he attended an event the day before and heard inspiring messages from several U.S. bishops.
“That was the first time I’ve ever seen the pope,” he said. “I had been waiting there about four hours and I wasn’t even near the front. That was amazing.”
Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas told the group that of all the men ordained each year 35-38 percent of them had been attendees at World Youth Day at some point, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Brady said people were asked how many of them were considering vocations and about 1,000 stood up.
“That was really special to see, understanding the importance of vocations,” Brady said.
The multiple languages have added to the cultural impact of the event and the weather has cooperated, much like back home, he said.
“The weather has been good. I’m pale, so the sun kind of gets to me sometimes.”
Originally from Wilmington, Brady planned to be at WYD through Sunday’s closing Mass, then expected to make a visit to Fatima and set off on a 10-day hike before heading home. He said the trip has given him the chance to think about and be grateful for his spirituality.
“I know that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t focused on my spirituality. It’s inseparable for me.”
He said a Gospel reading this week was about treasure and the priest said that’s what their visit to Portugal was about.
“We’re piling that up here and need to go home and share that,” he said.
He expected to attend a vigil Saturday and the closing Mass on Sunday.
“That’ll be the big she-bang,” said Brady, a history buff, who said as many as two million people are predicted to attend the Mass on Sunday.
“If I could compare (Lisbon) to any place in the States, I’d say San Francisco. It’s hilly, but beautiful. You can get glimpses of the mountains outside the city and the bay and water. It’s gorgeous. I can imagine why it was so important for all those explorers to leave from here. You definitely get a sense of adventure from the city.”
He said he is happy to tell his story because he doesn’t want the energy limited to people who were in attendance.
“I think everybody should know about it and know what it feels like.”
The Dialog provides readers news to your inbox with the Angelus e-newsletter. Sign up here for a free subscription to the Angelus.