World Youth Day, Sydney 2008

Archive for July 2008

The youth have received the power

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Greetings all!

It is great to be back in San Antonio. We were the first group to return and we arrived  on 7-21-08 at around 9:20 PM and after a delayed flight we were ecstatic to be back. We departed Sydney on 7-21-08 at 10:20 AM and arrived in Los Angeles on 7-21-08 at 6:45 AM. Due to the large time difference it was like we went back in time and we can actually say that we saw the sun rise twice in the same day.

As you may have noticed, I did not have internet access the last few days that we were in Sydney but I did want to post one last blog to summarize the entire World Youth Day experience.

In total we spent about two and a half weeks out of the United States. The group that Bishop Cantu and I were in spent a few days in New Zealand where we learned many things about the prominent Maori culture. Below is one highlight of the culture when we were first greeted by an official Maori greeting which consisted of rubbing of the noses. This was a bit interesting for us, but the overall stay in New Zealand was an amazing experience filled with wonderful people, extremely cold weather and beautiful country sides.

After our departure from New Zealand we then arrived in Melbourne, Australia and the second and third of the San Antonio groups arrived in Brisbane, Australia where we all experienced our “Days in the Dioceses” part of the trip. This is where we learn history on various dioceses within Australia. We were able to attend youth festivals which consisted of live bands and talks. We also visted different parishes within our assigned diocese. In our first few days in Australia, we were able to meet many wonderful people and become educated on Australian culture. This was also the time when the Pope landed in Australia which was really uplifting and inspiring as we looked forward to seeing him in Sydney.

After a few days in our assigned dioceses, all four San Antonio groups and all other pigrims united in Sydney, Australia for a week long of WYD festivities. This week seemed to be the point where most of the spiritual and faith strengthening experiences occured. Rather than sleeping in host family houses, we slept in sleeping bags on gym or classroom floors. We walked most places as opposed to being driven around by our host families. We sink washed our clothes, had no privacy, ate odd foods and took 3 minute showers. Although this may sound like a rough time, it actually enabled us to take the focus off of ourselves and see the true reason we were in Australia. We were called to Australia to become witnesses of God through the Holy Spirit so that we could recieve the power that we needed to return to our communities and make witnesses out of everyone we meet.

One question that is always asked following a WYD experience is “Did you get to see the Pope?” Our group came within atleast 10 feet of him on a couple of occasions. Our Holy Father provided us with many inspiring words as we are the future of the Catholic church, and also encouraged us to think about future generations of Catholics.

I will leave you with my final video of WYD 2008. Please continue to pray for those still returning home from Australia. If you just can’t get enough of this WYD coverage, see future issues of Today’s Catholic including articles written by myself. Thank you for reading and commenting. It has been a pleasure.

-Cynthia

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Written by archsa

July 23, 2008 at 1:15 am

The Pope Celebrates our Final Mass

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Today (7-20-08) was our final event for World Youth Day and the most exciting. How exciting it was to wake up on the race track with all the other pilgrims who had camped out with us. It was so cold but it was an amazing experience I will never forget.

 

We all woke up and tried to stay warm it was so cold out there. We had our final mass of World Youth Day and Pope Benedict XVI was our celebrant. Everyone was so excited to have him come celebrate with us. When he finally arrived he was escorted around the race track in his Pope mobile. It was so exciting everyone crowed the race track to see him and wave.

 

Once he circled the track a couple of times he got down and headed to the main stage on the track where he was going to celebrate our final Mass. It was a wonderful and beautiful Mass. The readings were all done in different languages from around the world which was really neat. There were also 24 candidates that joined us who would be confirmed by the Pope at this Mass. What an honor it must have been for those that were chosen.

 

Once the mass was over Pope Benedict did a special blessing from all that were present and then he announced were the next World Youth Day would be in 2011. I’m sure everyone has heard, but in case you didn’t it will be in Madrid, Spain. As all the excitement settled down and everyone headed out of the race track it was a sad but exciting time for everyone.

 

 I know myself I was ready to get a shower and a warm bed. We had completed our last event of World Youth Day. That was it we had all done what we came all the way to Australia for and now we have to take everything we have experienced and learned here home and spread it to everyone around us. Because after all that is what this whole experience was all about. Just like the theme says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be may witnesses” (Acts 1:8)That what we must remember when we go back to our everyday lives. While we were here we were surrounded by other Catholics who believe the same thing we do but once we go back to the “real world” that is not always the case. We have to take what we have received from the Holy Spirit while on this journey and spread it to those that may not know the “TRUTH.”

 

This was may final blog for World Youth Day and I really hope everyone who read got a little something out of what I shared. I have really enjoyed writing and sharing with everyone the wonderful experience while I’ve been here in Australia it has truly been a blessing and a journey in my life I will never forget. Thanks for reading.

 

Rachel Martinez

Written by archsa

July 20, 2008 at 10:06 am

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A Special Way of the Cross

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Today (7-18-08) was another event filled day. This morning we had catechesis again and had the honor of listening to the Archbishop of Buringham, Bishop Nichols, speak with us more about the Holy Spirit. The theme today was “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;and you will be my witnesses” Acts 1:8. He talked about testing our faith in the Holy Spirit and believing that the Holy Spirit is the most important thing in our lifes as Catholics, and how this wonderful experience we are taking part is should be charished and taken home to spread to others. He also talked about how the Holy Spirit is the outpouring of the good news and that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it is God telling us how much he loves us.

 

One thing that really struck me was when he spoke about us having a mission in life. Our mission is take what we have been given and spread it to others. We should also always remember to keep our faith and that it should never be private. We have the right to speak freely about God and his news anywhere we may be. That means we don’t have to only speak of God at church, as if it was some kind of “club”. He was a wonderful speaker.

 

After catechesis we had lunch and walked down to Barangaroo for a live station of the cross. It was amazing. The Intro was done and each station was done in a different area. The first station was at St Mary’s Cathedral then the second and was at the Domain.  Every station after that was some at a new setting. It was amazing to watch. I really wish we could have done the walk with Jesus unfortunately we didn’t have that option but it was still really nice to watch on the big screen.

 

After stations there was a little concert and we headed back home to get some rest and pack to sleep under the stars tomorrow night. Only a few more days I can’t believe this is all almost over. It’s sad to say but everything has been wonderful so far and I am sure it will only get better.

 

Rachel Martinez

Written by archsa

July 20, 2008 at 9:58 am

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Koalas are for Bishops

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Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, hosted the bishops and cardinals to a luncheon Saturday afternoon.  At the end of the meal, we were treated by the local zoo to some of the more interesting Australian animals, such as the Koala bear.  Above you see Bishop Tamayo of Laredo petting one of the koalas.

The above picture is from the welcome ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI.  It was dubbed by the media, “Super Thursday.”  The Holy Father gave a beautiful and inspiring homily, encouraging the youth to seek the truth, Jesus Christ.

Cuddly Koala

Cuddly Koala

 

It was interesting to see the bishops when the koalas and other animals were brought in to the lunch room.  We were told that Koalas are especially sensitive to noise and movement, and so we were asked to remain seated.  It was interesting to see how grown, responsible men revert back to 12 year olds when in the presence of interesting animals!  No one paid attention to the request, but rushed the animal handlers.  Very few petted the bat, some petted the python, and everyone rushed the poor, scared koalas!

From down under,

-Bishop Cantu

Written by archsa

July 19, 2008 at 8:07 am

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A Very Good Friday

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Yesterday was dubbed “Good Friday” by the press in Sydney.  It was indeed a very good Friday.  The central activity, aside from the morning catechesis and celebration of the Eucharist, was the celebration of the Stations of the Cross.  With 250,000 participating, one could imagine the logistical difficulties.  However, it was beautifully done.  It was a modern, artistic rendition – one which, however, preserved the core of tradition of this devotion. 

Parts of the Stations were especially moving.  One of those moments was the station when Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.  This was done by one of the Aborigines.  Details such as this one gave the Stations a modern tinge that allowed the participants to enter the heart and spirit of the devotion.  One of the stations stopped in front of one of the Sydney hospitals, in order to acknowledge the suffering that people encounter every day.

Today, the pilgrims will pray with Pope Benedict at a vigil.  The concluding Mass will be with the Holy Father tomorrow morning.  We will certainly maintain our prayers for the archdiocese.

-Bishop Cantu

Written by archsa

July 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

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Guest Blogger

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One of my friends Clair Lavender is going to do the blog for today because I think it will be a great story to share with everyone. Clair and her friend Lauren had the honor of riding on a boat behind the pope. It was a pretty awesome experience. I was jealous. I hope you don’t mind this blog was for 7/17/08. Sorry I sent two today it’s been a little hard to have access to a computer.

 

Thanks,

 

Rachel Martinez

 

Greetings San Antonio! Today your writer will be me! Clair Lavender! Waking up this morning, it was just like any other day, we headed on over to Holy Cross for religious instruction and were greeted with some good music and strong accents from the Birmingham group. Bishop Christopher spoke to us about the Holy Spirit. We talked about using our gifts and not abusing them. Organization is good, “chaos is the work of the devil!”

 

We then celebrated mass and Lauren Palmieri and I headed out early to catch our boat! Let me explain: Lauren entered into a drawing by signing up on an xt3 profile page where her name was drawn along with 100 others to board one of ten boats that would follow the pope to his first major appearance during World Youth Day! Lauren, Chris Henderson, Becky Martinez and I jumped a couple buses, got lost and then found a really nice Aussie Guide that got us exactly to where we needed to be ten minutes early!

 

 Lauren and I boarded the boat and headed off pretty quickly. As the pope boarded his boat the other boats began screaming and waving their flags! His boat drove right by ours and we all leaned as far as we could to get a good glimpse. Lauren and I were a little afraid the boat was going to tip because literally everyone was on one side of the boat!

 

We then trailed behind his boat and followed him to Bangaroo. He was greeted with a dance performed by the Aborigines and everyone on the boat headed inside to watch on the widescreen tv. Pope Benedict gave his address as we all stared at the screen, clapping, gasping, and laughing as if we were actually there. During commercials we would run outside and listen to the crowd chanting. As Pope Benedict began his route on the Pope-mobile we could see people running around after him, flags shaking and country’s chanting.

 

It was very exciting to watch! Once the Pope-mobile was out of sight we continued to watch on the television. As Lauren and I began mingling, I met a guy who will be playing Jesus on the sixth station tomorrow and Lauren was finally able to trade with the Italians and get the hat she’d been admiring since we first arrived. The boat went back around the harbor which was an excellent spot for pictures of the city, the opera house, and the bridge lit up at night. We found the group waiting for us and we headed over to the park to eat and check out the festivities. We were all pretty tired but I had the chance to watch a performance by the people of Fiji! (Very cool!) We headed back- took two buses and had a bit of walking, but we made it! Time for internet, showers (if they’re open) and bed! Tomorrow is another day!

Written by archsa

July 17, 2008 at 9:21 pm

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Catholicism

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I was struck yesterday as we awaited the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI the myriad of national flags waving, obviously in national pride.  And yet, we were all united by our common faith, by a joyful and peaceful spirit.  What a beautiful way to recognize how our Catholic faith is universal.  (In fact, that is what “catholic” means, “universal.”)  What a wonderful way for our young people to live and breathe this universality.  I was delighted to see our young San Antonians meeting young people from other countries, exchanging autographs, and together delighting in the joy of our faith.

The weather was beautiful as the Holy Father arrived to Barangaroo, the section of Sydney where the WYD stage is set up.   We listened to the gospel proclaimed and the Holy Father gave a beautiful homily.  Among other topics, he spoke of the importance of recognizing objective truth, so that we do not fall prey to relativism.  Truth cannot contradict itself.  He also spoke of recognizing what is true, loving what is good, and seeking what is beautiful.  These three lead us to God.  These three are found in the person of Jesus Christ.

This afternoon, we pray the stations of the cross together.  We’ll pray for the archdiocese, and for the intentions of Archbishop Gomez.

-Bishop Cantu

Written by archsa

July 17, 2008 at 7:17 pm

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