Friday, August 15, 2008

World Youth Day 2008 - Slideshow

Here is a slideshow of some pictures taken during WYD. The slideshow was created by my brother, who also took some of the photos.
If you have an experience or pictures from WYD to share, please post them here in the comments.

Monday, August 4, 2008

World Youth Day - The Adventure of a Lifetime

World Youth Day 2008 (post from my Photography Blog)

I'm back from Sydney now, where I have been on holiday during World Youth Day for a few weeks. And what a time it's been! World Youth Day 2008 was definitely the most memorable experience of my life. The whole week was a time of great joy and faith in Sydney, and the entire world.

For those who were watching, I documented some of my experiences during WYD on this blog. In the upcoming weeks I will run a series of photos here relating some of the key events that occurred during the time of WYD. The video shown above is a compilation of photos taken by me and my brother who also attended, to the WYD theme music "Receive the Power" by Guy Sebastian and Gary Pinto.

World Youth Day was special for me in many ways. Firstly, I was able to come together with youth from all over the world - over 170 nations - to unite and share experiences and culture. I met many new people, especially from Canada and Chile, with some of them even offering places to stay if I ever travel to their part of the globe! The number of flags visible was amazing, and everyone was very willing to share culture and faith.

One of the most beautiful things about World Youth Day was the atmosphere. There was a great sense of peace and friendship that I have never before felt in Sydney, or anywhere else for that matter. Everyone was ready to lend a hand with directions or whatever happened to come to hand. And an amazing thing happened - you were able to step on a train in the middle of Sydney and be greeted with a cheery "Hello!" or perhaps even a song. I don't know what it's like in other parts of the world, but normally in a big city in Australia if you say "Hello" to someone you're likely to get a cold stare. This transformation that came about was certainly beautiful to behold.

Another great thing was the hope and joy I saw in the young people around me. They all had a hope in the future that is becoming rare today, and rejoiced in the current moment without "stressing out" about the dozens of things that could have been worrying them. Without being careless, everyone was able to maintain a joyful attitude which also helped them to care for others.

World Youth Day 2008 - Flags
There's no way I can describe everything that World Youth Day has been for me in mere words. I hope that this and the next few posts will convey some of what I have experienced, but as with any great moment it is impossible to explain fully. I can only say that it has been a life changing event for me and many others, which I will be building on for the rest of my life.

Has there been a great moment in your life, or a life-changing experience you would like to share? Leave a comment and discuss what has been special to you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The media

Since there are already so many people talking about the spiritual and emotional experience at WYD, my first post here will be about the media's role. A key concern for me about World Youth Day was how it would be portrayed by the media. Historically many newspaper and tv articles have had an anti-catholic bias, and most of the news leading up to wyd was about the protests and complaints, so I was anxious to see the coverage during the event itself.
Thankfully, everything I haue seen so far has been completely positive. According to the news, nowhere near the expected number of protesters turned up, and for all the talk about excessive powers, police only arrested one person for causing a public disturbance. But quite sensibly, the news mostly ignored these trifles to focus on the event itself.
The Pope was on the front page of every newspaper I saw during WYD week. The accompanying pages of articles were nearly all positive, even with regards to his apology. The Daily Telegraph called itself the official WYD newspaper, and certainly did a good job of it, offering the most complete coverage of the events I could find. Friday's Stations of The Cross were covered in a four page centrefold, along with the daily WYD section of the paper. The Final Mass had a special commemerative poster. Even those Australians who didn't see the throngs of pilgrims in the streets can't help noticing WYD, thanks to the prime coverage.
Of course, WYD deserves this sort of attention, if only for the fact that it has been the biggest gathering of people in the history of Australia. But it's certainly refreshing to see the secular world stand up and take notice of the Church in a positive way. We've now got a great opportunity to go out and continue to show the world that as a Church we are alive. Let's give it our best.

On the road again

We have now left Mt Schoenstatt in Sydney and are on the road North. The International Schoenstatt Youth Festival on Tuesday went well, and provided a great opportunity to meet some youth from America and Chile. We're all still trying to recover from world youth day, and there's a flu going round that most of the wyd pilgrims seem to have got to some degree, so we're somewhat looking forward to the chance for a break.
I will probably post about wyd in a few parts soon, so keep an eye out. In the mean time, Dominus vobiscum, and God Bless!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The going forth...

I haven't posted here for a while, partly due to the busy schedule and partly because I've been sick. Unfortunately I wasn't well enough to attend the evening vigil at Randwick, but got to go in on Sunday morning for the Final Mass which was good. Now our whole group is back at the Schoenstatt centre for the international youth festival on Tuesday. It's time to do a round up of the week and I have no idea where to start. There are so many things to say that it's nearly impossible to write them all down.
Firstly, I agree completely with the M.C.'s description - amazing and unbelievable. It's really hard to describe the World Youth Day experience in words. Although people had little sleep and long walks, no one really minded. The Pope really enthused the young people and gave a message of hope for Australia in particular.
The highlight of the week for many people was the Stations of The Cross. This beautiful and reverent depiction of our Lord's Passion and death really made a great impression on those watching.
I won't attempt to go into more detail with regards to WYD right now, as I'm still trying to sort out everything in my own mind after the hectic events of the past few days. It has been a wonderful experience for all, and the hard work of thousands of volunteers really paid off with everything running very smoothly (even the weather was perfect!) So congratulations to all who helped make this an unforgettable week in the history of Australia, and hope to see you in 3 years time in Madrid!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This was certainly a cool day, in both senses of that word. Catechesis went well, finishing at 12, after which we went straight to Barangaroo for the papal welcome. From here things started to get amazing. Our C1 seats turned out to be right up front - we could see the Pope quite clearly as he arrived. And best of all, as the Pope left Barangaroo in the Popemobile he drove right past us - I got within 3m of him!
But that's not all. Among all the crowds of pilgrims we didn't have a chance of leaving Barangaroo in time to reach our next venue for a performance. But somehow, with the help of sister and two very friendly policemen, we not only took a shortcut, but also got a police escort the whole way! What an amazing day!

Day 2 at WYD08

Another amazing yet exhausting day. Today was our first day of animating the catechesis. Everything flowed quite smoothly and we had a great homily by the first bishop. We even got a free Schoenstatt bandana (which I am wearing!)
During the afternoon we split camps and I got to visit EWTN at the vocations expo, where they said that LOTR is live at the opera house on Friday 9pm.
We managed to survive with less sleep than normal quite easily - it was the walking that killed us. By the end of the day I had walked betwen Hyde park and Darling Harbour at least 4 times, carrying backpacks and food. Speaking of which the evening meal was fantastic - casserole, bread, soft drink and fudge - much better than yesterday's cold pies.
Tomorrow we will be seated at C1 for the Pope's arrival, so hopefully we'll get a good view.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's happening!

Well, we've finally reached the first day of wyd, and what a day it's been! Sydney is bustling with pilgrims - walk down the street and literally half the people you see will be wearing the bright orange wyd backpacks. Some estimates even predict more than the 225000 initially expected.
The opening Mass went well, although a few technical glitches occurred with the media operations that I only picked up on because of my media experience. Cardinal Pell had a very encouraging speech, and Mr. Rudd presented a typical spin in which he acclaimed the role of the Catholic Church in the shaping of our current culture and government.
As expected our group had some difficulty moving around (over 30 people), but in the end we got VIP seats at the opening Mass which was good.
Overall the wyd events have gone very well so far. Were all pretty exhausted after walking but looking forward to the next few days.
In reply to a comment posted here (thanks btw!), I dont normaly wear the scarf, but i wear a dark blue pullover with the word Australia on the front and a red beanie when cold. My group also shouts Viva Schoenstatt and Aussie Aussie Aussie when Australian groups come in sight.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pilgrim packs

Pilgrim backpacks have been handed out, containing an official guide to events and handy extras such as a torch, poncho, Compendium to the Catechism and copy of Luke's gospel with Acts.

The pope has arrived!

This morning Pope Benedict XVI set foot in Australia for the first time. This is only the fifth time a Pope has visited Australia. He now begins a three day "rest" period, during which time his location is still unknown.
For those who cannot attend wyd, SBS will be providing live coverage of all the major wyd events including the opening Mass and catechesis highlights, and of course EWTN will provide extensive programming.
Travel update: I've reached Mt. Schoenstatt now, and will be moving into Sydney itself tomorrow. Some of the nuns we are staying with went to see the Pope landing, and managed to catch sight of him as he drove away. I still haven't seen the Pope, but hopefully will get a good view during wyd itself.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Trip

All went well with the trip down, and I've reached Sydney now. There's still a few hours' drive into the place where we're staying, but otherwise have reached the destination. I will also be trying to get to a Latin Mass during WYD, so that still needs a bit of organizing.
Most of the newspapers I've seen have a positive message about WYD so far, so hopefully that's a good sign of the future.
Only 3 days to go now!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I will be posting from the mobile phone

I will be posting from the mobile phone