WEDNESDAY
May 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 101









NEWS for Wednesday, May 31, 2000
FROM DRUGS TO HOPE: FORMER DRUG ADDICTS ON PILGRIMAGE TO ROME
Initiative of Community for Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts

ROME, MAY 30 (ZENIT.org).
    A group of 45 former drug addicts has taken up a 60-mile pilgrimage on foot to celebrate the Jubilee. "The march in the sun is exhausting, but it is lovely to hear people encourage us: Come on! Don't give up!" said one of the youths, aged between 15 and 24.

    They are walking from Civitavecchia to Rome in a Jubilee pilgrimage characterized by joy and courage. The marchers are from "The Bridge" rehabilitation community in Civitavecchia. They are being accompanied by 8 workers and the community's founder, Fr. Egidio Smacchia, 59. They are all wearing shorts and red T-shirts with the motto "Jubilee 2000 -- The Bridge." They are coming to Rome "to cross the Holy Door, which means to 'go beyond.' Even to go beyond our own tranquility, of not wanting to address our problems."

    The road is long and hard. From the beginning they were aware of the difficulties. "To share is also to see that the rest are tired but keep walking," Danilo, one of the marchers, said.

    At the end of the preparatory meetings for the pilgrimage and Holy Year, Fr. Egidio told them, "The Jubilee must also be something extraordinary for us. On the way, at times it will be necessary to help or be helped; in any event, we will only be able to go on if we are together." The youths are carrying a special book, in which their hosts on route can write a dedication.

    "Rome is your Jubilee of liberation," Fr. Filippo Gentili, priest of Most Holy Savior parish in Bolsena, wrote in the book.

    In the midst of laughter and singing, the pilgrimage continues with reflections and discussions, on a one-to-one basis or in groups, to contribute to recovery. In the afternoon, the pilgrims meet their hosts. 15-year old Marianna is quite overwhelmed. "I felt very good this afternoon at Mass. I am like a girl again, and I felt I was in a very large family." The pilgrimage has not ended. When they return home, they will write many letters to all the persons they met and to those who housed them, hoping to return their favors one day in Civitavecchia. ZE00053002

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