by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pilgrims from all over the world are beginning to pour into Sydney, Australia in anticipation of next week’s World Youth Day (WYD) festivities.
A Canadian, Angela Hardy, 24, was seen sprinting through the Sydney airport on Sunday with a backpack bearing a large image of the Sacred Heart which she bought as a souvenir in Cologne for World Youth Day 2005.
One of 130 in her group from New Brunswick, she came to see Australia and experience the power and universality of her Church and “witness that faith is alive . . . I think it’s important that the world see that.”
Another newly arrived pilgrim, Sister Maria Guadalupe recalled attending World Youth Day in Rome eight years ago when she heeded John Paul II’s call for youth to give their lives to the church.
“I walked into the basilica where all the sisters were and stayed for Eucharist Adoration. I was discerning my vocation then and I was sitting there crying,” she told the Sydney Herald.
“A sister came up to me and asked if she could help, and I said, ‘No, it’s all good tears for Jesus.’ And she said: ‘I’ll be just a few rows back praying for you.’ [I’m] now on the other side of that and I’m hoping to touch someone else who may be in the same position.”
Sister Maria is now a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, an order from Michigan, and is one of 52 sisters from 12 U.S. orders who just arrived in Sydney.
“I think there is going to be an outpouring of God’s grace and there will be many gifts from God to Australia and the youth of the world,” said another member of her group, Sister Mary Alma, of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Cleveland, Ohio. “Young people want more for their lives and this is the place people will find it.”
World Youth Day events kick off in Barangaroo at 4:30 p.m. on July 15 with Mass celebrated by Cardinal George Pell. This Mass will mark the arrival of the WYD cross and Icon which will have traveled through every diocese in Australia by the time it reaches the altar at Bangaroo. Mass will be followed by Youth Festival activities that include confession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, vocations expos, concerts, and workshops.
During their stay in Sydney, youth will participate in three days of catechesis centered on the Holy Spirit which will be held in 250 different locations throughout the city.
Pope Benedict XVI will make the longest trip of his pontificate when he departs for Sydney on Saturday, July 12. He will spend three days of rest at an Opus Dei-run resort north of Sydney before making his first public appearance at WYD.
Thousands are expected to gather in and around Sydney Harbor for the Pope’s official arrival at WYD on Thursday, July 17, when he will travel by boat to Bangaroo to address a crowd of 100,000. From there, he will board the Pope mobile and travel through the streets of Sydney on his way to the residence of Cardinal Pell.
WYD pilgrims will participate in live Stations of the Cross which will take place on Friday at various locations throughout the city.
The high point on Saturday’s schedule is an evening vigil and sleep out at Randwick Racecourse in anticipation of the close of WYD the following day.
The final Mass will be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday morning, July 20, at Centennial Park. Attendance at this Mass is expected to be the largest gathering of people in the history of Australia.
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