Catholic Youth Parramatta

Lunch with His Holiness – it’s a date!


Claire Brown WYD News Story
Bishop Anthony with Claire Brown at the WYD 2011 Commissioning Mass.
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

For Claire Brown from St Finbar’s Parish in Glenbrook, World Youth Day (WYD) 2011 in Madrid will have a special significance: Claire is one of a small group of young pilgrims who will have a private lunch with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Claire said the invitation came as a complete surprise.

“Until Bishop Anthony called with the news, I had no idea I would be a part of something so special. It is an honour and a privilege.”

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, now Bishop of Parramatta, was the Coordinator of World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.

“I remember what a profound impact the Pope’s lunch with 12 young people had during our WYD,” Bishop Anthony said.

“So I’m delighted that one of our pilgrims will have the chance of joining him for a very private lunch this time.

“Of course we will all have a chance of meeting the Holy Father, if not quite so closely. More importantly we will have a chance of meeting Christ and even more closely. We won’t just go to dinner with Jesus: He will accompany us throughout our pilgrimage and we will receive Him into our hearts and minds and bodies at Mass.

“That’s an even bigger wow than going to lunch with the Pope – and all of our pilgrims will have that opportunity!”

Going to Madrid next month will be the first full WYD pilgrim experience for Claire, who was at the final Mass with 450,000 people in Sydney in 2008.

“It was an incredible experience to be with so many people and to feel the Spirit move throughout the Mass,” Claire said.

One week before WYD08, Claire had returned to her Catholic faith.

“My family is Catholic and I had been baptised at St Finbar’s Church. After several years of worshipping at a Pentecostal church, my family felt called back to the Catholic Church.”

Claire has a twin sister, Sarah, another sister, Amanda, and two brothers, Greg and Peter. She and her sister were home schooled by their parents, Wendy and Steve, while their siblings went to the parish school.

Now aged 22, Claire teaches the piano and violin to 27 private students.

“I love music and teaching. My students are aged from four to 40. Some are studying their grades and working through their certificates, while others are learning how to feel the music.”

Together with fellow parishioner Scott Newton, Claire is participating in the Diocese of Parramatta’s WYD Planted and Built Up Volunteer Program.

On 10 August she will be heading off on the ‘Viva Spain and Italy’ pilgrimage led by Fr Suresh Kumar, youth director for the Diocese and assistant priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

“There are many reasons I am looking forward to WYD. I want to experience being with hundreds of thousands of people coming together to give honour and glory to God. It will be inspiring to share our faith.”

As a young person who is engaged with her faith, Claire teaches Special Religious Education at Blaxland East Public School.

“I teach children's liturgy at St Finbar’s Parish where I accompany our children’s choir for Mass, and help with practices each week. I am in an adult choir and generally involved in music ministry at St Finbar’s.”

Claire will be contributing to the Parramatta WYD pilgrim blog during the Viva Spain and Italy pilgrimage and WYD in Madrid.

Follow Claire and our other pilgrims at the Catholic Youth Parramatta site from Thursday 4 August.

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