Church youth group hopes to attend World Youth Day celebration in July

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

ORANGE GROVE - The saying is "good things come to those who wait." For the St. John of the Cross youth group, the wait has been two years in the making.

Saturday's rummage sale in the church parking lot was the latest fundraiser for the students, who are saving up more than $2,500 each to travel to Sydney, Australia, for the World Youth Day celebrations in July 2008.

The youth group sold parking spots to area vendors for $10 and also ran a concession stand, selling sweet treats and cool drinks to customers.

There were 37 vendors signed up for Saturday, representing Mathis, Sandia, Bluntzer and Alice.

In all, 24 youths and sponsors will participate in the 11-day trip from St. John of the Cross, along with three from St. Pius X and 17 others from the Corpus Christi area.

Orange Grove High School junior Clarissa Romanos attended the trip two years ago to Germany, and said after the experience, she is more in touch with her spiritual side.

"The Pope is like the Father. Being there, so close to him, it was like getting one step closer to heaven. It's like getting to see Jesus Christ," Romanos said. "All your emotions get mixed together."

OGHS senior Ariana Garcia said the experience was intense.

During the trip, the students were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other young people, who were all there together for a common purpose. Being in a foreign country also has its drawbacks. Unfamiliar food, foreign languages, unreadable signs, different weather - Germany was a unique trip. Garcia said the important thing about Australia is that she'll once again be able to share her experience with her friends.

"There are things to do on your own, and other things you do as a group, but at all times, you feel like you're surrounded by people you can trust," Garcia said.

Outside of church, the youth group remains pretty close.

Because of their different ages and interests, they don't always have time to socialize, but because of their beliefs and their shared efforts, the youth group members remain close friends, Garcia said.

One of the youngest of the group, freshman Victoria Trevino, is looking forward to her first World Youth Day, and although she's a little nervous, Victoria said she is excited to be going there with friends.

She says preparing for the trip and the expectations make her feel a part of something important and big.

She said what will make the trip special is the fact that every person she'll meet on the trip will be there because of their strong belief in God.