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.

Viva Spain and Italy WYD Blog List

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In the presence of the Holy Father


Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director of Schools Greg Whitby speaks Parramatta pilgrim Claire Brown, who was one of 12 young people selected to share a meal with Pope Benedict XVI during WYD...

"It was a fantastic experience, an honour and a privilege to be in the presence of the Holy Father with youth from around the world. It's something that I will never forget," Claire says.

"He called us all to bring back to our parishes and our nations the love of Jesus Christ to share with the world."

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Pilgrims' Final Mass

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Viva Spain & Italy WYD pilgrimage leader Fr Suresh Kumar at the Parramatta Pilgrims' Final Mass with Bishop Anthony in Madrid.
Photo: Ryan Reyes
See more Madrid images from Ryan Reyes in our WYD Photo Gallery

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Pilgrims' Final Mass with Bishop Anthony


Photographers Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu at the Parramatta Pilgrims' Final Mass with Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP at World Youth Day in Madrid.

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See more Pilgrims' Final Mass images from Alphonsus & Grace in our WYD Gallery

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Lunch of a lifetime: Breaking bread with the Pope

Catholic Diocese of Parramatta pilgrim Claire Brown (second from left) and the other youth representatives during their World Youth Day lunch with Pope Benedict XVI.

Parramatta pilgrim’s lunch with Benedict XVI

Catholic Diocese of Parramatta pilgrim Claire Brown has experienced the lunch of a lifetime during World Youth Day (WYD) 2011 Madrid, sharing a meal with Pope Benedict XVI.

Claire - a parishioner from St Finbar’s Parish in Glenbrook and Parramatta Viva Spain & Italy pilgrim - was one of 12 young people given the honour of lunching with the Holy Father at the Apostolic Nunciature.

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Plaza de Cibeles with the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI arrives at Madrid's Plaza de Cibeles on Thursday 18 August for his first event with young people for WYD 2011.
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu


See more Madrid photos from 16 to 18 August in our WYD Photo Gallery

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Madrid - 17 August


Viva Spain & Italy pilgrims out and about in Madrid on 17 August.
Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

See more photos from 17 August Madrid in our WYD Photo Gallery

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Celebrating the start of WYD


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The Australian pilgrims gathering in Madrid, celebrating the start of WYD 2011. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

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.

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

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La Jornada Mundial de los Jovenes


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'JMJ 11' - short for 'La Jornada Mundial de los Jovenes', or WYD in Spanish.

Our Viva Spain & Italy WYD pilgrims did well when asked to spell out WYD 2011 in abbreviated Spanish - 'JMJ 11' ('La Jornada Mundial de los Jovenes') during their WYD “Days in the Diocese” in Coria-Caceres, Spain.

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A journey taken with Jesus


By Fr Suresh Kumar, Director Catholic Youth Parramatta

Viva Spain and Italy pilgrims were quite excited to take off to WYD pilgrimage as it happended to be that they were to leave lastly. the count down began long back especially the tension built up rapidly when the other pilgrim groups left the country.

10 August arrived at last! The flight was to Dubai and to continue the jouney onwards to Madrid. Harvest blocked the seats in one area for all of us. (may be to reduce the noise in other parts of the plane from these pilgrims!?).

After the checkins and tearful goodbyes to parents and friends, we headed off to the waiting room to board the plane. For a moment we were like Hollywood stars or rather Bollywood stars with those flashes of camears before we entered the 'Departures'. Some of us were flying for the first time in life!

"Cabin crew please prepare to take off", was heard from captain Steve, now it's real...we are on our way to the pilgrimage to which we have been preparing for more than a year.

For a quick second, the whole year of preparation, formation, bookings, merchandise, promotions, medical conditions etc etc came to mind in a lightening flash and disappeared. Where are heading to? Who will be there to pick us up? Why are we going? questions came to my mind and vanished. World Youth Day is a vocation. Though the invitation is for everyone, its not all were chosen or not all did not choose. Its a time of Grace. I could feel it.

I could see some of became silent after take off. But this silence had a deep meaning. A soul searching for meaning. After all, Jesus is the tour operator of this trip. He is the chief organiser. He will look after me wherever I go. If I were to sleep on the floor rather than my cosy bed, so be it!

Emirates looked after us very well with all the food, entertainment...(I have been thinking of watching Pirates of Caribbean and it's being done now. The facility to call one another was bit handy for me to keep in touch with other pilgrims esp those who are flying for the first time in their life).

Food, movie,, movie, nap...we reached Dubai. Its a beautiful airport but the Mohul architecture spoke very well that we are in a Muslim country. Two hours of break was quite enough for me to freshen up and have a hot chocolate :-) Dubai was spirited up with WYD pilgrims from different countries. The Queenslanders (not sure which Diocese) were in colours with 30 or so pilgrims. They initially thought that were just 28 of us from whole of Parramatta Diocese. I had to set them right by revealing that we are not just 28 but 300. The whole army is out and about in France and Holy Land!

The onward journey began again with a bang! Three of us including me were upgraded to Business class! Now I know why people speak of business class...I was really pampered by the cabin crew. Champaigne on arrival, three-course meal etc etc.

Though the journey was really long, we forgot our tiredness when we reached Madrid. The airport was alive with so many pilgrims beginning to arrive from all over the world. It took me back to 2008 when we went to the airport to welcome the pilgrims from overseas.

We were welcomed by Maria from the Diocese of Coria Caceres. The coach took us to Coria. Again a long journey for 4 hours...very dry land....Maria explained on the way on the culture and life style of the people. (Spanish love to talk!). We reached Coria after almost travelling for 24 hours. We went straight to the Cathedral for Mass. Here, the climate controls the culture. It's 10pm and its still bright. We were welcomed by the Principal celebrant (a French Bishop) in Spanish. We met with the Direct Madrid pilgrims who also had a long and tiring journey.

We were taken to a near by Diocesan centre to meet the home stay hosts. It was a time to say good bye to our friends and entrust them to the care of the home stay hosts. They will be now part of that family for the next couple of days. (One of the great things that teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and He is the one who unites us). Ryan Manalili, Ben Ruiz, two seminarians frim Lismore and myself were accommodated in the Diocesan seminary. It's a huge building with only eight seminarians.

I am tired and waiting to hit the bed. See you tomorrow. Stay tuned...

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History, faith and hospitality await Parramatta pilgrims


Parramatta Catholic Youth Director Fr Suresh Kumar will be leading a group of young pilgrims from the Diocese on the 'Viva Spain and Italy' World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrimage from Wednesday 10 August.

The pilgrims will be taking part in the WYD “Days in the Diocese” in Coria-Caceres in Spain, where they will be welcomed by a Catholic community rich in history, faith and hospitality.

After the WYD celebrations in Madrid, the 20-day pilgrimage will move onto Italy, visiting Rome and Assisi.

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