Pilgrim Way WYD Blog List
|Fr Fernando and pilgrims at the WYD Vigil.|
From St Monica’s North Parramatta Parish Priest and
Pilgrim Way WYD Pilgrimage leader, Fr Fernando Montano
Our Pilgrim Way group stayed at the World Youth Day Vigil in Cuatro Vientos. The group was split into two groups, because the second part of the group couldn’t get in. The area was already packed when we arrived and we decided to stay in the outside area with the thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who like us wanted to spend the Vigil in pray with the Holy Father.
During the Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, a strong wind and rain put our faith to the test. We managed to get some plastic bags, umbrellas and, most importantly, good spirits to get us through the bad weather. A newspaper reported that the Holy Father was asked if he wanted to go due to the bad weather but he replied that if the pilgrims stayed, he would stay with them.
When the storm passed, he reminded the pilgrims that the hardships they faced that night were a sign of the hardships they are willing to face for Christ and in a moving comment, he prayed to God that just like the rain fell on the pilgrims so the graces of God also be with them.
The storm and the rain damaged the host for consecration and many of the pilgrims could not receive communion at Cuatro Vientos.
What many newspapers reported was the incredible silence during the Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. Some newspapers described it as “the silence that speaks”. A very moving experience.
Our little group in Cuatro Vientos spend most of the time enjoying the drums and chants and excellent environment in expectation of the final Mass with the Holy Father. Even when we couldn’t get the final coupon for our meals, we managed to get some hot dogs, chips and plenty of water, that became our dinner, breakfast and lunch.
Definitely an experience that I will remember for ever!
|Bunking down at the Vigil.|
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By Richard Blissenden, Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta
We have completed three days of teaching sessions with Bishops from around the world known as Catechesis.
We were lucky enough to hear our Bishop, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, on the first day. He packed them into San Antonio church with pilgrims needing to sit in the asiles, naves and altar!!
Bishop Anthony was relaxed and engaging in his presentation which had been introduced by an Australian Antioch group. The Bishop centered his talk around knowing God. The Question & Answer session at the end was outstanding.
Catechesis Day 2 @ the Palacios de Deportes and our speaker was the Archbishop from Canada. He focused his presentation on needing solid foundations. Everyone who hears the word of God and is faithful to his word is solid and holds a firm foundation.
Catechesis Day 3 @ the Palacios de Deportes and our speaker was the Bishop from New York. Most engaging.
The best presentations came from our own Bishop. How lucky are we!!!!
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By John Paul Escarlan,
Seminarian of Holy Spirit Seminary, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
As the World Youth Day (WYD) was about to conclude, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Holy Eucharist with thousands of seminarians from all over the world at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena, Archdiocese of Madrid on Saturday 20 August.
As a seminarian for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, I was fortunate enough to be part of this celebration.
Due to the huge of number of seminarians, some of us were allocated to sit outside the cathedral. And I was one of them. When the Holy Father arrived, we started chanting his name. For some people, WYD is a gathering of Catholics for one person who is the Pope; however, the Holy Father has shown to us that this pilgrimage is not all about him but this is mainly about our greater union with the Triune God.
In his homily, he encouraged us to "approach priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church's precepts", which include "to live in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and leaving aside worldly goods, live in austerity of life and sincere obedience" to God's will."
Furthermore, this gathering of seminarians from all over the world reminded me of the universality of the Church. It reminded me that we are not just seminarians from the Diocese where we come from but we are seminarians of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. To have that experience in celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the Holy Father was, therefore, an encouragement for all of us, seminarians, to continually persevere with great determination and right motivation in answering God's call to be His laborers in His vineyard.
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By Rachel Mui
It was early in the afternoon when we left the comforts of our university accomodation. This meant that the heat of the day was only just starting to pick up. Our group leader thought it would be smarter and faster to head towards the closest station and journey from there. We were told that this shortcut would mean that the walk would take about an hour...boy, was that wrong.
The walk to our sleep-out with our backpacks and suitcases was an experience that none of us can ever forget. Pilgrims from all over the world filled the streets chanting, singing and waving their colorful flags. The locals got involved too! They livened up the spirits of all the heat exhausted pilgrims by generously throwing water out of their balconies and onto the cheering crowd. As we neared the entrance the numbers swelled and so did the heat. Firemen armed with hoses came, spraying the crowd from the top of their trucks. It was so cool (literally)!!!
Around 5:30pm, we finally settled down in a marked space. The only problem was that we were in the wrong area. Somehow, amongst the mayhem, we managed to enter the wrong gate and then was refused access into our designated section. Exhausted from the heat and the trek, we marked our territory (with sleeping bags and mats) and refilled our water supplies from nearby taps. To our disappointment, we discovered that the food stations were all located on the other side of the fence, so we had to make do with five baguettes between 20 hungry pilgrims.
On the up side, clouds had covered the sun and provided much-needed shade. Just as we thought that the day's problems were over it got even worse - a severe flash storm struck half way through the Pope's Vigil celebration with the youth. The Mass was paused as everyone huddled under umbrellas and tarps to avoid the pelting rain. When Mass continued, Pope Benedict XVI noted that God had answered our plea for water!
As the skies darkened, frustrated pilgrims who couldn't reach their designated areas were getting rowdy. This posed a threat to safety and around half of our group retreated back to the university accommodation. However, the rest of us were determined to sit tight and be fully immersed in the WYD experience. Lisa and I were even more persistent. We were willing to spend the whole night, if need be, to reach our assigned area and be reunited with the PAR03 pilgrims who made it inside. It took us three attempts that lasted three hours before we found a loophole (as the police had blocked every other entrance) and slipped inside.
Finding our group was the next challenge. Not only were there two million people to sift through, it was also dark. St Anthony answered our prayers as we neared our section. He led us to two familiar faces who guided us to our group. The relief that flooded through when we had finally made it was overwhelming.
Our night had only just begun! After a quick dinner (at 2am) we headed off again. This time carrying food packs back to our original group and planning to return with our luggage in tow. Leaving was considerably easier and faster.On our way back inside, we tried to use the same loophole, but the police had reached the area and blocked it before we arrived. Volunteers explained to us that access was denied because clean-up was happening inside. We didn't believe them as we saw so-called 'social workers' sneak in. We then took the chance and approached the policeman who was guarding the gates and asked to use the toilet located just within the vicinity. It was just our luck to be allowed inside for the second time. We eventually fell asleep at 4am, both of us snuggled up under one air mattress and sleeping bag.
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Friday 19 August
Our third and final Catechesis session was a memorable occasion thanks to the inspirational speech from the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.
He had the 12,000-strong crowd at the Palacio de Deportes hanging on his every word as he spoke of the significance of charity, joy, hope and love for the Church as the way to evangelisation.
While our view of the Way of the Cross later that day was limited to a large screen, it was still an incredible experience to be among hundreds of thousands of people in reverence in the city centre, all there to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
Daniel - St Patrick's Guildford
Archbishop Dolan spoke some very inspiring words that touched me personally.
He spoke of four ways we can help to evangelise the Church which hopefully I and the others with me can live up to.
The Stations of the Cross was held back at the accommodation with those who weren't feeling up to withstanding the onslaught of Madrid's pilgrims. It ended up being quite a nice time with the tv providing us a better view of the stations than most people would of seen. Reading along, we joined in the millions in Spain and around the world who followed Jesus' journey to Calvary.
Dwaine - St Partrick's Guildford
I missed out on going to the Stations of the Cross, but I watched it on tv at the accommodation. I enjoyed reading parts of the Stations back at the accommodation with the other pilgrims. It was different to the Sydney one, but it was an awesome experience participating with other for the Stations of the Cross in Spain.
Mary - St Patrick's Guildford
For most days of this journey we have been late for Catechesis, but on this day we decided to get there early. We lined up and these Americans came up to us and wanted to hear us do our world famous 'Aussie Aussie Aussie' chant. We didn't grant their request as our vocal chords weren't warmed up yet. However their enthusiasm pumped us up for the rest of the day. Archbishop Timothy Dolan was an excellent speaker.
Tim - Padre Pio Glenmore Park
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