Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Days 12 to 19 of our WYD 2008 pilgrimage

Good evening, day, to all....

Well, the WYD portion of this almost month long pilgrimage has come and gone....

It was a thrill and an honor for our youth and for all of us to animate the Catecheses in a sports arena in Sydney's Olympic Park, where we also slept, but that was in "The Dome", a large facility - whose purpose I never got the opportunity to discover - shaped like a velodrome without the track. We were set up all in a row, girls at the far end with leaders at the end and leaders separating them from the boys at the near end to the center, with more leaders at that end.... Once we got used to it, we were glad to get back to it each night to sleep.

There was a lot of singing, a few skits, and lots of laughs and high spirits as we brought the other pilgrims, from 2000 to over 2500 to participate and sing. A lot of people were somewhat blitzed by the cold air, around 1 to 4 degrees at night and 10 to 14 during the day, so warming up with singing and movements was a welcome idea. We were glad to be there to welcome Pope Benedict on the Thursday and to participate in the grandiose way of the cross on Friday by sitting in a park which was one of the stations. Of course, the highlight was the overnight Vigil and the final Mass on Sunday.

Through the week, more of us have developed cold symptoms, so we continue to stock up on vitamins, try to get more sleep, and do all we can to keep warm. Still, not much can dampen the high spirits of our youth as we continued to enter into the significant and fascinating events of WYD. A few of our pilgrims elected not to go to the Vigil and one of our leaders accompanied them to stay in a hotel suite for the night so they could get better rest and keep warm. Franca took good care of them like a good mother, and got those who were coughing to wear a hospital mask to keep the room sanitary. On our return, I went to visit our convalescents and brought them Holy Communion from the Pope's Mass, beginning by praying with them, having them take turns reading the Mass readings, and sharing our impressions of the Pope's message, which those who were awake saw on TV.

After going back to the Dome for our last night, we packed up and left for good in the morning to fly out to Cairns, where we are now. It is much warmer here.... It was 25 when we arrived even though it was overcast and continues to be.... Today we went on a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, where most snorkelled and a few tried scuba diving. I tried it but didn't get very far, what with my persistent cough.... We all had a good time and most are going to bed early tonight on a voluntary basis, even though Michael has given us a 9:30 curfew.

I'm trying to upload more photos... I've tried in two different places this past week, but the PC's were locked in some what that wouldn't allow me to download my photos from the camera and then onto a portable memory stick. I finally found a place that would allow that, and am now uploading the photos to Photobucket, but must then share them to the blog. I may not have the time to do it as the operator closes soon.

God bless you all. Don't worry, we are either well or recuperating. Either way, we are taking good care of our pilgrims as though they were our very own. Peace and love.

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