World Youth Day, Sydney 2008

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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Benedetto!!!

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Greetings! Today was the second day of Catechesis for our group. It was filled with beautiful music again and wise words from a different bishop today. The major highlight of the day would be Pope Benedict’s boat ride and drive around Sydney. I was able to see him for about 5 seconds because the pope-mobile was going a bit fast as you may watch below, but it is always amazing to get the opportunity to see the Holy Father and hear people from all around the world chanting “Benedetto!”

As far as our living environment; the three showers are working out great for all of us. If you have never experienced WYD before, during the WYD week, you receive meal tickets and lunch and dinner are served at certain stations usually following Catechesis or any other major activity of the day. Recently our diet has conisisted of mainly sausage, meat pies, and different forms of stew. I don’t know about the rest of the group but I am craving some rice and beans.

On another note, we have been celebrating Mass together everyday and are definitely looking inside ourselves and searching for ways to expand our love and knowledge of God. Tomorrow we will witness the stations of the cross. Please continue to pray for us and for vocations. Many thanks for all comments and prayers.

-Cynthia

Written by archsa

July 17, 2008 at 6:56 am

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The Importance of Witness

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I have been somewhat surprised and saddened by the negative spin the local media is taking on the pope’s arrival in Australia and on World Youth Day.  It seems everyone has joined the sport of Catholic-bashing.  Interestingly, the only columnist in the local papers that called the Catholic-bashing a “sorry sport” is himself a former Catholic and avowed agnostic!

I think that this attitude, which is not quite so prevalent in the U.S., gives us reason to continue to do what we are doing – living our faith humbly, honestly, and yet publicly, when possible.  That is precisely what 200,000 young people are doing in Sydney!  They are witnessing to the hope their faith affords them.  In joy and humility – and this is something that crosses generations.  It’s great to see the faces of bishops light up when they see so many young pilgrims on fire for their faith. 

Today we welcome the Holy Father to Sydney.  I also will man the vocations booth at the convention center.  Some of the San Antonio pilgrims plan to join me for that.  G’day, mates!

-Bishop Cantu

Written by archsa

July 16, 2008 at 7:02 pm

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Strengthening our Faith

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All 150 of the people staying at St. Charles Catholic School were woken by a fire alarm this morning. Thank goodness that there was no fire because the school we are staying in is newly renovated, but it served as a nice wake up call for all of the pilgrims. Although about five fire trucks showed up, the alarm merely seemed to be set off by steam from a coffee pot.

A couple of hours following this event, the entire group enjoyed their first session of catechesis at Holy Cross parish. The first two hours of catechesis were filled with music and skits provided by a youth group of Liverpool, England and a 30 minute talk by a Bishop of Liverpool. Following this, we celebrated Mass and then enjoyed a BBQ on the lawn by the church. (The group was treated with a surprise when Bishop Cantú showed up and joined in the catechesis session)

After the BBQ the groups were free to go to any WYD event they chose to go to. The big event that most planned on going to today was a festival put on by the Franciscan order on a local beach.  

Tomorrow Pope Benedict XVI will be making his first official appearance at WYD on a boat going down a central river of Sydney. Please stay tuned for more updates. Thank you for your prayers. There is much prayer for vocations from the pilgrims.

-Cynthia

Written by archsa

July 16, 2008 at 6:29 am

Posted in WYD Sydney 2008

Opening Mass in Sydney

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We celebrated the opening Mass for World Youth Day in Sydney yesterday with 140,000 young people attending from around the world.  What a beautiful celebration it was!  I was particularly moved by the testimonies of young persons who had experienced earlier world youth days in different parts of the world.  They explained that their lives changed because of those experiences with the pope and thousands of young Catholics from around the world.  Some of them are now happily married with children, some priests, others religious, and all commited Catholics.

Some 2,000 priests helped distribute Holy Communion to the faithful at Mass, while some 400 bishops from diverse parts of the world concelebrated.  It was a moving, powerful, spiritual experience – even for a young bishop!

Keep us in your prayers!

–Bishop Cantu

Written by archsa

July 15, 2008 at 5:36 pm

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