Some 200 teenagers from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but are trying to make the best of the situation.
The group was on its way back from Friday’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., when the Blizzard of 2016 stranded their three buses along the side of the road with thousands of other travelers. Instead of burying themselves in their cell phones and complaining to their friends back home, they went to work on sculpting a snow altar and walking up and down the road inviting people in 10 to 15 other buses to attend a noon Mass Jan. 23.
The group’s leader, Bill Dill of the archdiocese’s Office of Marriage, Family and Life, said trying to organize the Mass posed challenges.
“We started with no hosts and no priests,” he said. “We asked everyone to bring hosts, but everyone said they didn’t have any. Someone gave us four they said were extra. We told those we invited that they probably wouldn’t get Communion, but could certainly receive spiritual Communion.”
Dill isn’t sure how many people attended the roadside Mass, which was celebrated by Father Pat Boehm from Sioux City, Iowa, and concelebrated by a handful of other priests. He said students and adults from Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Omaha, Nebraska; Fargo, North Dakota; St. Louis, Missouri; and Erie, Pennsylvania received the Eucharist in a most unusual place.
“The priest broke the Eucharist into the smallest reasonable size pieces,” he said. “In the end every person received Communion.”
One teenage girl said she had chills during the Mass, but not because it was cold. Many thanked Dill and the group from the Twin Cities.
It is unclear when road crews will remove the snow and reopen the heavily-used stretch of turnpike, and it probably doesn’t concern the group from the archdiocese because they just received supernatural bread for their journey.