Weekly Feature

2016-12-07 / Local News

Youth attends Mass in St. Peter’s Square


Antonio Antonio On Nov. 20, Pope Francis announced the formal end of the Holy Year of Mercy at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. This Jubilee Year of Mercy, which was called by Pope Francis on Dec. 8, 2015, officially came to an end with the closing of the holy door in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Cardinal O’Hara freshman Callum Antonio, 14, along with the rest of the Antonio family were just a few of the thousands of people in attendance for this special Mass. Accompanied by his brother, Finley, and his parents, Jayne and Paul, this Tonawanda youth spent a one-week vacation in Italy to attend the ceremonial Mass and visit a number of tourist attractions.

“We had to get up at 5:30 a.m. because the Mass was first-come first-serve, and there were no reserved tickets,” Callum said. “We ended up getting great seats in one of the first few rows so it was really cool.”

The next scheduled Holy Year won’t take place until 2025 unless Pope Francis calls for one earlier. The Antonios were able to make the most out of their trip by seeing what Italy has to offer.

“We stayed in Rome for two days,” Antonio said. “The first day, we were able to see the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. The next day, we went to Pompeii for a day trip and saw Naples as well. The following day was the Vatican Mass.”

From there, the family took a train to Florence and then went to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Paul Antonio, who was born in England, had a broken leg while they were in Italy but was still able to climb the tower.

“My dad was on crutches, but he was still able to do everything,” Callum said. “When it came to climbing the Tower of Pisa, he was like, ‘Well I’m here so I might as well do it.’ It’s not every day that you get to do something like that.”

Other than visiting the Vatican, there was one other part of the trip that sticks out to Callum.

“I really liked the Vatican and witnessing the Mass, but I also really enjoyed Venice and the gondola we took,” he said. “Just going down the streets was so much fun.”

Callum thinks it is great to share stories with those at Cardinal O’Hara High School.

“It’s great to share my experiences here [Cardinal O’Hara] because people understand the significance,” he said. “It might not have the same effect at a public school. I think our family is planning to go back to Europe in the future.”

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