Catholic Youth Parramatta

pilgrims PRAYER

A prayer for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta's pilgrims travelling to World Youth Day 2011 Madrid.


Ever loving God, we give you thanks for the many blessing we receive in this life. Thank you for the gift of World Youth Day to our young people. We ask your blessing on all our Pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid. Bless them on their pilgrimage and help them to build on the many graces and experiences that were the fruit of the World Youth Day in Sydney.


Guide them along right paths by bestowing on them the power of the Holy Spirit, so that they may continue to be your witnesses in the world.


May this pilgrimage renew their faith and confidence in you, and strengthen the bond of communion as they journey together, so that the fruits of their experience might bring renewal to the Church of Parramatta.


We ask this through the intercession of Our Lady of the Southern Cross and in the name of our Lord Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever.



Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Pray for us.

Blessed John Paul II. Pray for us.


Holy Land to Madrid WYD Blog List

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Eyes WYD Open: Bishop's video message from Madrid


The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, speaks about the Australian WYD Gathering in Madrid on 16 August 2011...and sends a message home to the young people in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.

“For the young people back in Parramatta who can't be here with us: you are in our hearts…we have brought you with us,” Bishop Anthony said.

Australian Pilgrims WYD Gathering xt3 coverage

Video coverage from of the Australian Pilgrims Gathering in Madrid.

Watch more World Youth Day videos at the YouTube Channel

Posted by web at 10:15 AM     Comments (0)     Permalink

Bishop Anthony: “WYD converts Bishops”


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Bishop Anthony during his interview with Fr Roderick Vonhögen.
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, has been interviewed at WYD11 by Fr Roderick Vonhögen (Dutch priest and founder and CEO of for his RKK Television show.

Bishop Anthony, who organised WYD08 Sydney, spoke to Fr Roderick about the impact of World Youth Day on Australia and Madrid.

“The World Youth Days convert bishops,” Bishop Anthony said.

“They convert priests. They make us more open to young people. To their needs, to their language and their aspirations for the world. World Youth Day gave me much more hope for the future.”

Listen to the audio of Bishop Anthony's interview online


Visit RKK Television

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Bishop Anthony and Fr Roderick. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

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Pilgrim arrivals videos


Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director of Schools Greg Whitby spoke with WYD 2011 pilgrims on their arrival in Madrid from the Holy Land...

St Nicholas of Myra Penrith Parish Assistant Priest and pilgrim Fr John Watkins

Teacher and pilgrim Diane

Pilgrims Judy, Stacey and Grace

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16 Aug: Australian Pilgrims Gathering & Opening Mass


All Parramatta WYD pilgrims came together at the Australian Pilgrims Gathering in Madrid on 16 August.

Photographers Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu were on hand to capture the moment, as well as the Opening Mass later that day, marking the official start of WYD 2011.

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Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP with Parramatta World Youth Day pilgrims at the Australian pilgrims gathering in Madrid.

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The WYD Cross & Icon arrive at the Australian Pilgrims Gathering.

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Part of the celebrations at the Australian Pilgrims Gathering.

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The WYD 2011 Opening Mass in Madrid's Plaza de Cibeles.

See more photos from 16 August Madrid in our WYD Photo Gallery

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Picturing our pilgrims in the Holy Land


Latest images from photographer Ryan Reyes, following our Holy Land to Madrid World Youth Day pilgrims...

River Jordan

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Bishop Anthony with pilgrims at the River Jordan.

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Pilgrims at the River Jordan.

Mount of the Beatitudes

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Front of the church on top of the Mount of the Beatitudes.

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Fr Warren Edwards celebrates Mass at the Mount of the Beatitudes.

Mt Precipice

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Bishop Anthony atop Mt Precipice.

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Mary and Karen from St Clare's Catholic High School Hassall Grove at Mt Precipice.

Church of the Annunciation

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Inside the Church of the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.

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Joe Wilson reading the prayers of the faithful.

Mass on the sea of Galilee

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Pilgrims boarding the boats for the Mass on the Sea of Galilee.

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Pilgrims celebrate on the boat.

See more Ryan Reyes photos in our WYD Photo Gallery

Posted by web at 11:31 AM     Comments (0)     Permalink

Feast of Saint Lawrence Mass

From 'Group 3', Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese

WYD Blog 10 August

In Israel the pilgrims of the Parramatta Diocese experienced a cultural lunch that consisted of chicken, various local vegetables and traditional sauces. This meal is known as the Shawarma. The pilgrims all enjoyed this meal, not only because of the taste, but also due to the beautiful view that we had out on the balcony showing of the landscape of Israel.
- Taylor Zahra

Today involved a variety of spiritual activities that allowed me to explore my own connection with God. Although the day involved these amazing moments, I really enjoyed the continued celebratory atmosphere on Bus 4. The singing continues to strengthen through out the pilgrimages..."Who's your Shepard Shepard Shepard...Jesus is your Shepard Shepard".
- Richard Talab

The new experience of the garden Mass at Mt Carmel. For me, the Mass posed some profound questions. The atmosphere was just as reverent as a church Mass. Being in the natural environment rather than the mans constructions was truly remarkable. Everyone was relaxed, at ease and one with God. A wonderful day.
- Robert Car

Todays homily was definitely one of the highlights of my trip so far! Fr John addressed the congregation with such poise which created an atmosphere of peace and hope. He discussed the term 'Ego', meaning edge of God. That at times we would much rather do the absolute minimal rather then persevere and unfortunately sometimes we push God away from our lives. I know many of us have trust in God and ourselves that we can achieve more!
- Siobhan McGeowen

Today one of the sites that we visited was Caesarea. This was a historic site with ruins from the city that had been ruled by many. When we first arrived at the site of Caesarea it didn't seem like there was all that much. We went into a small theatre and watched a short film about the history of the place. After the film we walked out to Caesarea itself, it looked like a place with history, but what touched me was the fact that even after all the different rulers and the natural disasters that took place the city of Caesarea still stood. Caesarea is still a similar place to what it was when it was first constructed and the fact that the past is still present now there is still a chance that it will still be standing in the future to come.
- Emily Stone

Visiting the site of our Lady of Mt Carmel, was something that was really breath taking as I reflected on my  friends and family back home, in Australia who are apart of the lady of Mt Carmel parish in  Wentworthville...As I was standing at the peak of Mt Carmel. I was thinking of my family and friends at Our Lady of Mt Carmel and what an amazing experience it is to be standing at the foundation of their parish. It is not every day you get the opportunity to go to the place that is the name of the parish that you are so much apart of as a community. This experience was definitely the highlight of my day and I cannot wait till we go to Madrid and get to celebrate World Youth Day week with the Pope.
- Crystal Menezes

The Mass was located in a beautiful garden environment at Mt Carmel, Muhraga. An inspiring and humourous homily was engaging by Father John. My favourite part about Mass was receiving an our Lady of Mt Carmel Scapular, which promises you a direct passage to heaven. This meant a lot to me.
- Jamal Ghalloub

The environment during Mass at Mt Carmel, Muhraga was beautiful. The garden provided great views of the surrounding communities. This setting was peaceful and gave me a feeling of comfort that I will always remember. Today was inspiring day that will stay with me forever.
- Sarah Kazzi

Today was another memorable day! One of the highlights that come to mind is the bus trip from Mt Carmel to Caesarea. The atmosphere on the bus was magical because we were all chanting proudly..."The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire...we don't need the devil cause the devil is a liar! ..."
One word: INSPIRED.
- Juvy Marcellano

At the end of Mass, we were all offered the opportunity to receive a Scapular of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. It has two pieces of small cloth connected by a white cord which we wear over our heads. One piece shows an image of Our Lady. When we accepted these, we devoted our lives specially to Mary, and if we promise to faithfully wear the Scapulas against our hearts and live Holy lives, we will not suffer the eternal fire. In short, we have earnt ourselves a fast-track passport to heaven. We each tonight wear a souvenir of the Mass and a reminder of our personal commitment to continue to grow in Christ. The gift at Mass. Passport to heaven.
- Stacey Hardman

Today Fr John Watkins gave a moving homily that made me consider the modern pitfalls in society. Fr John referenced his favorite author Matthew Kelly who explores the follies associated with an excessive focus on individuality, hedonism and minimalism.
- Mark Strong

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Tags: WYD   blog   august   mass   feast   Lawrence

Following the Passion of Christ


From 'Bus B', Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese

Saturday 13 August - Jerusalem

Our day really started last evening with the reflection and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of the Agony located in the Garden of Gethsemane. After walking to the garden we spent quiet time in the Garden area looking into the grove of ancient olive trees and gazing beyond to the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Within the darkened church we knelt before the altar and across the rock of the agony, identified as the place where Christ knelt and prayed, the place where he asked his disciples to pray with him, the place where he was betrayed by one of those closest to him. We celebrated Benediction and spent our hour watching with Christ present in the Eucharist whilst our chaplains offered the opportunity for confession. This was a wonderful reflective experience and the perfect preparation for the day ahead.

On Saturday morning, the Jewish Sabbath, we ventured to the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu. This is a modern church built over the ancient ruins of the house of the Chief Priest Caiaphas. What remains are the cells below this house, a place where it is probable that Jesus was kept on the night of His arrest. The ancient steps, uncovered in archaeological excavations, running down from the church and leading to the Mount of Olives are over two thousand years old and are likely to be the very steps taken by the group arresting Jesus and the steps that Jesus himself walked over two thousand years ago.

Having finished at the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, we visited the Israel Museum where we viewed an amazing scale model of Jerusalem as it looked the night before the Romans in AD70 destroyed it. This model is incredible in its detail and looking at this model helped all of us better understand what Jerusalem would have looked like when Jesus came to this city as he approached his Passion. We also had the opportunity to view an exhibition related to the Dead Sea scrolls and the Essenes, the ancient sect that produced the Dead Sea scrolls and we learnt something of their distinct way of life. This was a good preparation for us as we are due to visit the Dead Sea on Sunday and travel close to Qumran, the place where the scrolls were discovered by a shepherd boy, totally by accident, in caves in 1947.

Following our visit to Israel Museum, we drove to a restaurant near Bethlehem near to the Shepherd’s Field, a place we had visited a couple of days earlier. This restaurant is styled (very vaguely!) along the lines of a Bedouin tent and the food served was typical Middle Eastern food, lots of bread, salads, lamb, chicken finished off with some super-sweet baklava and extremely strong coffee. Along with these Middle Eastern delicacies were some very non-Middle Eastern chips and roast vegies! All in all, no one left lunch hungry. We were also treated to a couple of our pilgrims getting dressed up as Bedouins and dancing to a traditional drum – some great photos to show others on our return!

Then back to the Old City of Jerusalem and each bus group walked the Way of the Cross-, the Via Dolorosa. Each group walked with a large wooden cross, carried by four different pilgrims, between each station. As we prayed at each station and chanted as we walked between each station, we focused on the Passion of Jesus and were able to connect with His suffering in a way that we had never been able to before. What was significant was that many people who were not a part of our pilgrimage stood and watched as we walked by, not only taking photos or filming us but also bowing their heads in prayer or in respect for what we were doing in following in the footsteps of Christ. We completed the Way of the Cross-at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, though we had to complete the Way of the Cross outside this most holy of churches for all Christians. It is unfortunate that conflict between the five Christian denominations controlling this site (Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Syrians, Armenians and Copts); prevent pilgrims from the practice of completing the Stations of the Cross inside of the church.

Upon entering the Holy Sepulchre we were overwhelmed by both the significance of the site for us and for all the people of the world who were there visiting and worshipping. The church itself is divided into sections both due to it being destroyed and rebuilt several times and because there are five different Christian denominations who worship here. Throughout the church there are amazing mosaics decorating the high ceilings and walls, depicting the last four Stations of the Cross. As you walk through and admire the beauty of the church the scent of burning incense can be smelt everywhere and you can hear chanting from each denomination that are scheduled to take turns in processions throughout the day.

We visited the tomb where Jesus was buried and were allowed to enter four at a time, to say a quick prayer, before being moved along by the Orthodox priests who were managing the huge crowds through this sacred space. We then were able to visit Cavalry or Golgotha (the place of the skull) where Jesus was crucified. We were able to touch the rock on which they would have placed Jesus’ cross in the mountain when he was crucified. It is difficult to accurately convey, in words, the emotions felt as we reflected on the significance of standing at and touching the very place Jesus died on the cross for us as well as kneeling before the site where he was buried. We celebrated our mass in the public space adjoining the site of the tomb and less than 30 metres from the site where Jesus was crucified. Bishop Anthony, in his homily, stressed the special nature of this site for all Christians the most sacred church in the world. Leaving this, the holiest Christian place in the world, the words which often end Mass rung in our ears and hearts stronger and louder then ever: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

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The Pilgrims that Rocked the Boat in Galilee


From Group 10, Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese

(Written by Carol, Justin, Nicole, Christel, Lorelle, Kathleen, Adrian, Joshua and Khaylin)

It has only been a week in the Holy Land and the 'Bus Bandits of Bus B' led by the brilliant Carol already have a life time worth of tales. So for you at home four portraits have been worded to provide but a glimpse into this amazing pilgrimage.

Mt Beatitudes
After completing the challenging journey from Jordan to Israel, we summoned the last of our resolve to push ourselves to the top of Mt Beatitudes.

Upon arriving at the beautiful Mediterranean, the climate engulfed us and a stunning vista of Lake Galilee surrounded us. All pilgrims sat around the outdoor theatre whilst the clergy who were framed by the incredible view provided a Mass to never be forgotten.

The sun danced across Lake Galilee and Fr Warren's wisdom on the beatitudes flowed forth. After the Mass all felt enriched however also shocked! This beautiful land was nothing like the Israel we had pre conceived. During reflection time that evening all of the Bus Bandits agreed that their view on Israel had been tipped up side down.

Regardless of what any one else had ever said or what the media had portrayed, we knew we were in the Promised Land.

Mt Beatitudes.

Boat Mass On Sea of Galilee
By way of boat all the pilgrims sailed out onto the sea of Gallilee. The two boats were harnessed together so that one mass could be shared by all.

Bishop Anthony spoke with an honest love on a truly relevant issue for all young adults - vocation. Upon the conlcusion of one of -  if not the - greatest of Masses the Bus Bandits have ever experienced, we were treated to a musical surprise.

Live Israeli folk music with electronic production and an amplified violinist! Across both boats the atmosphere was electric, leading us in dance was the brilliant Carol!

 Mass on the Sea of Galilee.

Passing through the military check point and into the West Bank we made our way to Bethlehem. It was immediately clear this was an impoverished land made up Israel's minorities, aching from conflict. We all felt a sense of humility as we reflected on our petty woes in the scene of hardship lived by these forgotten people, today and tomorrow.

Humbly, we entered the church built atop the area believed to be the location of Jesus' birth. The reverence and bueaty of the church is indescribable, not even photos could truly capture. After having time to meditate, pray and show adoration we celebrated yet another beautiful mass.

Garden of Gethsemane
In the evening we travelled back to the garden and the Church of the Agony where Jesus wept as his disciples slept. Here, we took part in a Holy Hour to contemplate the agony of our Lord in the darkened Basilica. All of us felt overwhelmed with compassion for Jesus in his hours before his arrest. It was clear that people were moved so greatly there were tears. Many felt a close and real presence of God.

Church of the Agony.



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Tags: World   Youth   Day

O Little Town of Bethlehem


From Groups 13 & 19, Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese

Today got off to an early start at 8am with our first visit being to a Christian devotional mega store in Bethlehem. The shop contained a large variety of devotional items including hand-made olive wood nativity scenes, Mother of Pearl Crosses, Rosary Beads and any devotional item you can possibly imagine. The store was a great chance to stock up on gifts for loved ones and was an experience for all.

We then proceeded to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Our first stop was a very special one as we lined up to visit the cave of the Nativity which includes the actual birth place of Jesus Christ and the place where his cradle was layed. Upon entering the cave we each had the opportunity to touch the silver star that marks the birth spot of Jesus Christ. This was a truly amazing experience for everybody and provided much spiritual enrichment.

After visiting the Shrine of the Nativity we then proceeded into the Chapel of St Catherine of Sienna where a traditional Christmas Mass was celebrated by Bishop Anthony and co-celebrated by Fr John, Fr Warren and Fr Robert. The Mass included the singing of Christmas Carols.

We stopped for lunch before then visiting Shepherd's Field. In the Field were hundreds of caves from the time of Jesus. It is believed that one of these caves is the actual spot where the Angel appeared to the Shepherds. Shepherd's Field also included a beautiful Chapel with walls that portrayed the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Our final stop for the day was En Karem, the location of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth and the birth place of John the Baptist. Our first point of call at this location after many flights of stairs was the Church of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Despite the long walk everyone was truly amazed when they entered the Church with its beautiful painted walls and wonderful symbolism.

After descending back down the many flights of stairs we proceeded to visit the Catholic Church of St John the Baptist. The Church with all its beauty also includes a crypt featuring the spot where John the Baptist was born.

Today has been another amazing day in the Holy Land and one that as a group has continued to build our faith and understanding of the Bible as we see it come alive in front of us.

God Bless,

Groups 13 & 19

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Tags: Bethlehem   John the Baptist   Mary   Elizabeth   Jesus   Holy Land

Hearts and souls filled in Cana, Mt Tabor


WYD Blog
Church at Cana.

From Group 9, Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese

Relaxing, Amazing, Reflective, Serenity, the ability to find inner peace. These were just some of the many different emotions that filled our hearts and souls through the journey of our pilgrimage to Mount Tabor and the nearby town of Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle.

The ascension to the summit of Mount Tabor was both a reckless and exhilarating experience. The way the drivers were able to maneuverer around the many curves and steep inclines was a whole different experience.

When we arrived to the awesome and vast setting of Mount Tabor’s summit, the view that awaited us was breathtaking. The mosaics reflected the transfiguration with the use of gold. The many depictions of Christ gave us a greater understanding of the beauty of the Transfiguration, and gave us an inner sanctum to reflect on many key aspects of our spirituality.

The Mass, which took place above the original site of the transfiguration, was indeed very spiritual and gave us the opportunity to reflect and ponder. The Mass in total was very beautiful and the homily is what set this mass apart as the best so far. Father Warren Edwards’ (Our Lady of the Angels Rouse Hill Parish Priest) ability to captivate us through the homily made it easy to relate to and his honest and thought provoking words made this Mass a truly memorable experience. He reminded us that we were living in God's footsteps in all we do and say. The way his voice echoed throughout the church filled peoples hearts and minds with a rush of faith and inspiring words to live out the gospel.

For those who wished to attend confession the opportunity was available during our time on Mount Tabor before and after Mass. All the people that attended really proved that they wanted to be closer to God and reach a spiritual side they may not have known they had.

The traditional food of Israel; the Vegetarian falafel and the meat dish Shwarma, allowed for pilgrims to enjoy an enhanced experience of a new culture.

Following lunch we experienced an activity we all know and love; Grocery Shopping. A variety of items were purchased including; water, socks and watermelon. It brought back the comforts of home, which deep down we all miss.

Embracing our spirituality in Cana

After buying the many “essentials” we travelled to the town of Cana, which holds a sacred place in all Catholic hearts. The wedding of Cana, which is the first miracle Jesus Christ performed, was the focus of our next destination. The walk leading to the church was engulfed by a passage from Matthew describing the first miracle.

Underneath the church where the wedding occurred, there contained remains of a stone room, which contained one of the original “jugs” which Jesus turned the water into wine.

Soon afterwards we continued to the upper level of the church where we witnessed four couples embracing their vocation and renewing their vows in this most sacred space.

The reward of being able to splash out by the nearby swimming pool deemed, exciting and relaxing.

Many feelings and emotions have engulfed us throughout our pilgrimage so far. The many holy sites of Israel, the relieving confessions, the redeeming church, the rewarding view and the relaxing pool are what have made this day a highlight of our journey together. Each person has embraced the spirituality of the trip and has had there own personal rewards in getting closer to God and finding themselves in the eyes of our religion and in the Holy Land.

Posted by blog-hlm at 5:23 AM     Comments (5)     Permalink

Tags: Mt Tabor   Transfiguration   Cana

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