The Vatican press corps spent the morning doing “site visits” in Sydney, touring the Mary McKillop Memorial Chapel, St. Mary’s Cathedral and the adjacent rooms and chapels where various events on Pope Benedict’s schedule will occur.
Everywhere we went there were World Youth Day pilgrims walking, praying, singing, introducing themselves to one another. The day started out cool and cloudy, but the sun is shining brightly now and so are the pilgrims’ smiles.
We went to the tomb of Blessed Mary McKillop, the Australian founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. The World Youth Day guestbook was filling up fast with the names of pilgrims from Australia and New Zealand, but also Ireland, Tahiti, Korea, England, Canada, the Philippines, Lebanon and Malaysia.
As organizers were explaining where the press positions would be during the pope’s visit to the chapel, in walked a youth group from Apple Valley, Calif. They went directly to Blessed McKillop’s tomb to pray.
The small square in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral seems to be a major gathering place for World Youth Day pilgrims. Many were posing in front of the countdown clock that said, “1 days (sic) left.” Inside the crypt, quiet reigned as young people prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. Upstairs others were stopping to pray at the tomb of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, the young Italian whose body was flown to Sydney from Turin especially for World Youth Day.
Outside, members of the Neocatechumenal Way from Padoa, Italy, were singing and inviting their peers from around the world to join their circle and dance. Amanda Werely, 17, and a group of her friends from St. Ann’s Parish in Burleson, Texas, arrived to take it all in.
“This is my first World Youth Day and I’m blown away,” Werely said.
Karen, a 30-year-old member of the Diocese of Sacramento’s pilgrimage, also was attending a World Youth Day for the first time. She said her father had already been working to organize a pilgrimage from his parish when he died two years ago. “This is a memorial to him,” she said.
Filed under: WYD