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      Local teens celebrate World Youth Day in Spain

      According to the Vatican, there are more than one billion Catholics in the world. Nearly two million of them gathered in Spain last week.

      The purpose? World Youth Day, an event where young believers celebrate their faith in the Catholic Church.

      Some members of the Church of the Resurrection in Hancock say they were among the lucky to go. "You just have a lot of things in common with all these people around the world. It's pretty neat," said Nathan Junttila. "The amount of people that have the same faith as you was amazing," added Lily Williams.

      The common"their faith and love for God.

      "The purpose is to call together young Catholics from all over the globe to come together in one place, have an experience that, I think, is unique and really can TMt be had any other way, said Bishop Alexander Sample of the Marquette Diocese.

      Initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985, World Youth Day happens every two to three years internationally. It attracts youth from every country to deliver one common message.

      "I think one of the messages of the Holy Father that he encouraged young people was to love the church, which is the community of the faithful, and what he was encouraging is to avoid and reject the individualism or our age."

      Hundreds stood in line, roasting under the sun just to touch the hand or catch a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI. "We were really close to him, and it was worth it, but we sat in the sun for like four hours," said Sam Ozanich.

      "To see a sea of young people, I was looking at young people as far as my eye could reach, a vast crowd of young people, Bishop Sample said. This is the future of the church...this is the future of our world."

      The next World Youth Day is scheduled for 2013 in Brazil. Nathan, Sam and Lily say they would all love to go again.