22 July 2008

WYD 2008, day 5

At 8:30 on Saturday morning, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the Sydney Cathedral with a select group of WYD participants in attendance. Some of the Capuchin friars had passes for the event, but was able to get inside the Cathedral; the others watched the celebration on a large video screen from the cathedral's front steps. The remainder of the Capuchin pilgrims went into the city around 11:30 to begin the walk to Randwick Racecourse, where the Holy Father would celebrate Mass on Sunday morning. Most of the friars opted to begin their walk from the Central Station, which was about 4 km (about 2.5 miles) from Randwick. A few brave souls, however, chose to make the 10 km (6.2 miles) walk to Randwick, starting from North Sydney and crossing the Harbor Bridge (seen in the background of the photograph).

Upon reaching Randwick, every pilgrim received a bag containing that evening's dinner plus tomorrow's breakfast and lunch. By 3:00 p.m., when those who opted for the long walk reached Randwick, the place looked like a refugee camp. Tents had been set up and sleeping bags rolled out on every square inch of ground for as the eye could see. The area allotted to the Capuchin pilgrims was not particularly near the altar, but it was near the adoration chapel.

The evening vigil service with the Pope did not start until 7:30 p.m. so the pilgrims spent the time eating, praying before the blessed sacrament, napping, and talking with the other pilgrims. Various musical performances, shown on large video screens set up around the area, also helped to fill the time. The vigil service consisted of song, testimony from several pilgrims, an address by the Holy Father, and Benediction. In his address, Pope Benedict spoke about Saint Augustine's understanding of the Holy Spirit. It was quite challenging intellectually, which shows, I suppose, that he wants WYD to be more than just a Catholic Woodstock.

When the Pope left around 9:30, the pilgrims prayed an "international rosary" and sang the Salve Regina. Fortunately, the rain that had been forecast for Saturday night never materialized. Some high, thin clouds partially obscured the full moon, but otherwise, the night was dry and relatively mild. The tired pilgrims eventually crawled into their sleeping bags for a good night's rest. [In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I returned to the friary after the vigil service, and slept in the warmth and comfort of my bedroom there. And no, I do not feel guilty at all about it!]

1 comment:

Paulus said...

... and one friear - it was me - walked with seven young people 27 km, from the early morning until 5 pm. It was an amazing experience ...
Brother Paulus, Germany