In the wake of my little boat trip yesterday, I was asked to speak with various reporters and talk show hosts about the Papal Voyage.  As I was being introduced on one particular morning radio talk show early this morning, the host of the show commented, “Now I am not saying I am going to convert to Catholicism or anything, but I have to tell you — the joy and enthusiasm in this city is infectious!”  He continued to say that he has no doubt that WYD will leave a permanent mark on Sydney.

Those of us that have been to WYD before, know that this is always the case, but I feel quite confident saying that it has caught the people of Sydney completely off-guard.  Last night, a man recognized me as affiliated with WYD and mentioned to me that even though he was not Catholic, if his daughters ever wanted to go to a WYD, he would most certainly encourage it.  On a separate occasion, I was having dinner next to a group of middle-aged adults celebrating a birthday.  As they began to sing “Happy Birthday”, a group of pilgrims from Italy (they are never hard to miss) stopped to join them in song.  Afterwards one of the gentlemen ordered a whole cake for them and joined the pilgrims in conversation for quite some time.  I have seen pilgrims enjoying the hospitality of city merchants on seemingly every corner and I have not been able to pay for a cab all week.  It seems everyone in Sydney has been caught up in the power of the Holy Spirit.

However, we must not let it go unsaid, that while it is true that the pilgrims are the vehicles for which this joy is transmitted, today during the Stations of the Cross, we were all reminded that it is Jesus Christ is who the source of this joy.  At Barangaroo, I was able to watch the television commentary during the Stations and was struck at how they not only affected the pilgrims, but so many of the television personalities providing commentary.  If there was any doubt about the meaning and importance of WYD, I believe it was silenced here in Sydney tonight.  Yet as I write this entry with the sounds of concerts at Darling Harbour in the background, I think it is important to say that the experience doesn’t end with Jesus in the tomb.  At the end of the Jesus’ passion in Sydney tonight, there is no mourning — for WYD is a Pentecost experience.  Tonight every concert is a beacon of joy and a witness to the fruits of the Holy Spirit showering down upon Sydney.

Tomorrow, we will begin our walk towards the “Southern Cross Precinct” filled with so much hope and expectation.  We will be joined by many local residents who were not able to attend the entire week, but chose to spend one night under the open sky — no doubt with expectant and open hearts.  So tonight, I sign off until after the final mass asking for your prayer for all of those locals just joining the rest of us.  I ask your prayers for the staff and all those organizing these final moments.  I ask your prayers for the intentions of all those watching from all over the world, and I ask your prayers for all those who will be moved to take new direction in their lives because of the witness that is WYD.

Until next time, blessings and G’Day!

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