19 July 2008


A friend at work asked me why they call it "World Youth Day" when it lasts a week. I think it the official part of it lasts only four days, but perhaps the 'Day' is just the final Sunday - tomorrow, the 20th of July! It has been a whirlwind of a time. Father Bernard at the Cathedral, at yesterday's (Friday, the 18th of July) lunchtime Mass, commented that Auckland had 'survived' a hectic week :-) It is, indeed, nice to get back to something like normal, but it was a wonderful time. New Zealand accommodated, I think I have heard, something like 4,000 foreign pilgrims who came here for a week or two beforehand. I don't know how many we actually sent to Sydney of our own people. I think our parish in Pukekohe sent 18, and we hosted 46 Quebecois as well - two of them in our (my and Susan's) house. Our two were Patrick Renaud and Alexandre Bergamin (who looked the spit and image of Rémy in Ratatouille). I was impressed by the behaviour of all these young persons. There was nothing artificial about them . They were young, they played guitars, they acted exactly as you would expect young persons aged 16-25 or so to act - except that it never got over the top. We had a shared dinner at the church hall on the Thursday evening (they arrived Wednesday the 16th). I suppose, with parishioners, there were maybe 80 people there. It was fun, it was loud - but not too loud! - and not wild. It was just very good. And they sing like angels. Patrick is 20 and Alexandre is 16. Patrick is officially Alex's minder. Anyone under the age of 18 has to be supervised by an older pilgrim. There was never the slightest evidence of friction between them. I was so pleased that we had billeted them. Now they are gone, and tomorrow is the great Mass at the end of the time. Australia will surely not recover in a hurry - at least it is to be hoped not! The impact must surely be good, if the Sydney Morning Herald - a very secular newspaper - is any indication: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world-youth-day/one-good-friday-sydney-gave-its-heart-to-jesus-christ/2008/07/18/1216163156775.html I am very glad we were able to participate a little! John


Triple J said...
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Triple J said...

As a Sydney resident it has been a pretty amazing event. I live about 40 minutes drive out of the city so I have seen very little of the participants but I have enjoyed the benefits of a combined school holidays and World Youth Day. WOW!!! There has been no traffic on the roads and when your commute goes from an hour to 30 minutes you gotta love that. However because of the marvels of cable tv I have been able to watch everything live. It was amazing to be able to watch Stations of the Cross from the comfort of my own living room. Even though I wasn't there as a local I know all the locations and was very moved by the entire experience. Sydney has looked amazing as ever and for the most part Sydney residents have been very understanding. We have had some shocking problems with traffic in this city so for the residents of Sydney to be so understanding is very unusual and I think a testament to how much the church has worked to try and inconvenience people as little as possible. Sadly because of a small group of trouble makers the church's work has been over shadowed. Saying all that I firmly believe the love of Jesus has shown through in all the pilgrims. My only prayer is that the experiences that all Catholics present for this week have experienced will flow into there daily walk with God.

I may not be as well spoken as my father but I hope that you have all gotten a feeling for how the city has been this week.

John Thayer Jensen said...

That's very interesting - and moving - Johnny. Thanks. It's helpful to know what things were like from your end. I had imagined it might be absolute hell to have your city invaded by half a million pilgrims.