Did this just really happen???

The Holy Father boarding the Sydney 2000 at Rose Bay -- the last time I had a chance to take a photo!

The Holy Father boarding the Sydney 2000 at Rose Bay -- the last time I had a chance to take a photo!

When I first arrived in Sydney four months ago, I thought I would be working behind the scenes on various technical issues or something of the sort. As it turned out, I was asked to be the master of ceremonies for the Papal boat during the Pope’s voyage through Sydney Harbour. To be honest, I am not quite sure how this all happened, but today I was responsible for, what one Australian paper considered, “one of the most significant events of Australia’s history.” Umm. . . yes. . . that is a bit overwhelming, and truth be told, it was actually a whole team of people that made today’s Papal welcome such a huge success. I could not have imagine a better group of people to have worked with and feel quite blessed and humbled because of the opportunity to work with them.

The obvious question has been how I felt about coordinating the Papal boat, however, I must admit that I feel like I coordinated very little. From start to finish, God has this whole event under control — we overcame so many difficulties along the way and some rather large ones on the day, I believe, because of grace. At the end of the day, I admit that I am thrilled because of the response the Holy Father received from the pilgrims and people of Sydney. Even the Holy Father exclaimed, “Wow” as the boat rounded the coves filled to with thousands of people along the shore line. One of the Cardinals in the Entourage half-jokingly asked is there would be any pilgrims left at the site of arrival with so many pilgrims along the shore. I smiled and commented that I think he will be pleased with what awaits the Holy Father. No one was disappointed.

Today was a day that provided me with an opportunity to meet the Holy Father, but I confess that it was not the highlight (though it was a close second!) The true blessing of the day was coaching the 16 pilgrims that met the Holy Father prior to the Papal arrival. After all, I am a teacher (I have been a high school teacher for a few years) and part of my joy is providing my students with the opportunity to shine brilliantly through the fruits of their own labor. Today, the youth of the world, represented by these 16 people, took center stage with the Holy Father and made all our work worth every effort. My only regret is that the world did not get the chance to know them the way I did, even if it was relatively brief, for they are some of the most impressive, poised, uplifting people I had met in a while. This became especially noticeable in the comments they made to the press after disembarking the vessel. Their stories, like so many of the stories I have heard from young people during this WYD, capture the imagination. “It is the pilgrims who will evangelize the rest of us”, it is often said. Today, they not only inspired me, but helped me to remember that all happens according to God’s plan rather than our own. For this and the entire opportunity, I feel so very blessed and am so very thankful.

Blessings and G’Day!

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