Catechesis, concerts and congo lines

The crowd at the Scythian performance, July 16, at Palm Grove, Darling Harbour

The crowd at the Scythian performance, July 16, at Palm Grove, Darling Harbour

Yesterday was the first of three days of catechesis for World Youth Day pilgrims. The Diocese of Honolulu’s group took the light rail down to Jubilee Park for their session at St. Scholastica’s College along with groups from Sri Lanka, Canada, Australia, Tanzania, and the Philippines.

After some ice breakers, prayer and a video of pilgrims talking about why they are participating in WYD, Bishop Denis Brennan from the Diocese of Ferns in Ireland gave a catechesis talk on the Holy Spirit. Pilgrims got to ask him questions, which those I talked to appreciated, saying it made it more like a discussion. Organizers gave him a cockatoo stuffed animal to take back with him to Ireland. He happily accepted it and said it might be the only cockatoo in his homeland. Bishop Brennan also said Mass and in his touching homily spoke about Iraqi priest Ragheed Aziz Ganni, who he had met before Father Ganni was murdered outside his church in Mosel, Iraq, along with three subdeacons.

To end the morning, we had Aussie BBQ along with lamingtons and Wagon Wheels biscuits and TimTam Fingers.

In the evening, I headed down to the Harbourside Amphitheatre at Darling Harbour to check out the two Hawaii groups performing in Youth Festival events. Holy Trinity School band has only been together for nine months and actually got started after the school received an general invitation from the Heritage Festival, sent out to schools, to consider performing at WYD. They decided to form a band for that purpose and there they were yesterday at the waterside playing with all their might.

Following them was St. Francis School’s Show Choir and backup band, who looked chilly in their Hawaiian muumuus and bare feet but got the crowd moving and eventually dancing to their upbeat Christian songs. The all-girls school group had one male member, a bandmate of one of the girls, and though he didn’t wear a muumuu (just an Aloha shirt), he played the bass guitar wonderfully. The Egyptian man sitting next to me shouted out to him, “You’re brave!” before saying to me that the guitarist played really well.

On a side note, I love the random encounters with fellow Catholics I’ve been having here, from an Australian Benedictine nun on the light rail headed to help at a booth at the Vocations Expo to a priest from Sacramento as I walked down the street, who spotted the Diocese of Honolulu flag I had on my backpack and asked about Hawaii. And there are the constant random, “Where are you from?” shout-outs and cheers as groups pass each other in the streets.

So it was great to see Hawaii groups representing in Sydney, and after dinner, I checked out another concert, this one peformed by Scythian, a Washington D.C. celtic rock band. They certainly rocked out the Palm Grove at Darling Harbour with hundreds of pilgrims cheering them on. There were ever-forming congo and kick lines, flags waving, people singing and clapping, and even a guy wearing flashing Christmas lights. It was one incredible Catholic mosh pit. I went home with Klezmer and Gypsy music in my head. It’s an indescribable feeling watching all these Catholic young people from countries around the world dancing and singing together. I think if you harnessed their energy you could power the whole Barangaroo facility and beyond for today’s papal arrival.

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