For the second consecutive year, the youth cross pilgrimage sponsored by Catholic Youth Ministry has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The diocese notified parish leaders of the decision on Feb. 22.
“While we remain dedicated to increasing the faith of our young people through engaging resources, events and activities, we also acknowledge that safety is of utmost priority at the current time,” wrote Dan Pin, the associate director of the Office for Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Pin told The Dialog that, given the current restrictions on gathering sizes, it would not be possible to hold the event this year. The pilgrimage normally takes place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday and includes several hundred youth and youth ministers walking through Wilmington in a display of their faith. Bishop Malooly has customarily joined the pilgrims.
Pin said all of the inside events would not be possible this year.
“You have to have people in the churches for the different events and at Padua Academy for the Stations of the Cross. We usually pack the churches,” he said. “We thought of having an outside event, but the logistics of that are incredibly complicated.”
Bishop Malooly began the cross pilgrimage after his arrival from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. It debuted in Wilmington in 2010. In the past, it has included music, distribution of palms, litany of the saints, Stations of the Cross, reconciliation, and a closing liturgy. The locations have included parishes in the city of Wilmington, Padua Academy and St. Francis Hospital.
He notified parish youth leaders of some good news. The Pilgrimage Cross carried through the streets is available for use at individual parishes. The cross, which was built by members of the diocesan Youth Leadership Team and blessed by Bishop Malooly in 2009, can be incorporated into prayer, reflection and liturgy, he wrote.
CYM also was forced to cancel last year’s recognition dinner, and it appears this year’s will be virtual unless it can be moved to a later date, Pin said. It is typically held in mid-spring. It would not be the first CYM event moved online, as the office sponsored a Spark conference for youth last fall that attracted more than 100 participants on each of the nights it took place.
Youth sports has been ongoing since the fall, and the annual golf outing was held in the fall after being delayed from the summer.
Pin said the CYM office can help individual parishes find material online to help them with their youth ministry programs.
“There’s a ton of resources out there for ministry,” he said.