Papal fever

The author's shot of Pope Benedict at Barangaroo during the Papal Arrival, July 17.

My shot of Pope Benedict XVI at Barangaroo during the Papal Arrival, July 17.

It’s been several hours since my pilgrim group came within feet of Pope Benedict XVI’s popemobile as he rode through Barangaroo, but my group members and I are still riding high on the spirit of the Papal Arrival.

At first we thought there was no chance for a papal spotting as our group was assigned to Gate 14, Section H4, far south of the altar where the Holy Father was to say an opening prayer service. But after we spotted the popemobile further in front of us, some wondered if he might pass by.

Then the Sydney 2000, the lead boat out of 11 vessels that made up the Papal Boat-a-cade, came down Sydney Harbour along Barangaroo’s shore and docked just in front of us. We could see Benedict, tiny and surrounded by dozens at the front of the ship, but he was there. And then he disembarked, boarded the popemobile, and came right past us.

To get a good shot, I climbed up on the shoulders of Hawaii pilgrim and Sacred Hearts Father Johnathan Hurrell (thank you, Father Johnathan!) and had a great vantage point as the popemobile passed by. I was snapping away with my camera, but I failed in my journalistic duties when Pope Benedict was right in front me. I looked away from the viewfinder and right at the Holy Father as he smiled and waved through the popemobile glass. It’s hard to remain impartial to a papal sighting when you’ve never seen the Holy Father in person before.

The picture above is the best that I could manage under the circumstances. Luckily, another girl in my group got some terrific shots to include in the Hawaii Catholic Herald’s World Youth Day special section. This is far from an impartial journalist’s take on the papal arrival, but I am both a pilgrim and a reporter on this trip, and the pilgrim’s fever has a hold of me right now.

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