First Catechesis

July 28th, 2016 by Lee Herden

Our pilgrims experienced their first animation and Catechesis today in a massive circus tent which held around 1000 people. The animation team was from the Australian Salvatorians and they were pretty good. The packed tent was moving and shaking and singing in preparation for the Cate hiding Bishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan from New York. He was a most engaging and entertaining speaker. The English speaking countries of Australia, New Zealand, Philipines, Scotland, England, South Africa we completely engaged with the Cardinal’s address. He called pilgrims to allow Christ into their lives daily and not to procrastinate about making the choice to live by the teachings of Christ. Especially those about showing mercy.

Following Mass pilgrims dispersed to youth festival events across the city. Many, like Henry, Angela, Zac, Eddie, Ed and Lauren saw the Holy Father as he drove around the city from Wawel Castle and addressed pilgrims from JPIIs window. Still others went to various talks and concerts ranging from Taize to Matt Maher.

Mary’s Rug

July 27th, 2016 by Lee Herden

We have done so much in the last few days and experienced so much from the Basilica packed with 500 Aussies lead by our Bishops, and our musos leading the singing with added strength and instruments and Seth Harsh playing the 400 year old organ. To sitting on the grass at AGH reflecting on our experiences with our chaplains and Bishops.

It is overwhelming it is hard to put into words, but despite all this grandeur I want share the story of a unique journal, one that has woven our story, our joys, sorrows and triumphs, Mary’s Rug. Mary journals through crochet. Each day a square or four are crocheted and into each square is woven the colours and emotions of the day and experiences of the journey. For Mary the squares began when she left her beautiful girls and husband and travelled by train down to Sydney. The squares reflect the anxiousness of leaving home and journeying into the unknown. They tell the story of her mum’s birthday celebrated on the day we flew out. The plane square is imperfect reflecting the long hours flying and bumps along the way. I was privileged into a conversation with Mary and a bearded long haired man, a person she had only met earlier in the day, a fellow pilgrim from Wollongong. As Mary explained the way the yarn was twisted and turned in to trebles and linked to unite the square, the conversation turned to the spiritual connection of the Trinity ( represented in the trebles) and how the Spirit will be with us on our journey. That wasn’t a conversation I would ever have imagined hearing on that long journey.

Mary has each day woven many squares representing our journey: squares reflecting the colour and crosses of the stained glass windows in St John’s Cathedral, sombre squares from the Uprising Museum, golden squares for the sunflowers and square of Wadowice and a single ashen grey square for Auschwitz Birkenau. Yarn is gathered along the journey and the story of each square told and the hopes of us all are being woven into those squares. Deft fingers twisting and turning the ups and downs of the day into a thing of beauty.

Our group of 60 sixty each day asks about the squares and the conversation calls us all into the story. Tonight, the night of the opening Mass, I called over to see a couple of pilgrims feeling a bit tired and worn out from our long busy days only to find Mary and few friends on the floor crocheting. They had sent up a prayer space, with a green crochet square, the radio was loudly tuned to the Mass and they were following along with the liturgy. They didn’t want those who couldn’t make it miss out. For me as I watched, tonight’s squares wove the story of the corporal works of mercy, “visiting the sick”, a genuine weaving of the beatitudes. I didn’t get to the Mass or take communion with the hundreds of thousands in Blonia Park. I think I had a richer humbler Mass one in which tonight I was woven more deeply into Mary’s Rug and pilgrimage to the City of Mercy.

Journey Update

July 24th, 2016 by Lee Herden

The blog has been quiet for a few days but we have been amazingly busy. There have been so many highlights. Our day at Jasna Gora was a blessing. We arrived thinking that there would be crowds and we would see little. However, that was not to be. We around around 11:40 am thinking we would have 20 minutes see the Icon of the Black Madonna as it is usually closed from 12 until 2. For WYD it is open all all the time. This message may not have filtered through. Pilgrims may have thought that the normal practice would be in place so when we got there there were very few and we we able to go into the Chapel and kneel before the Madonna and have a nice slow walk along the pilgrim path around her. Part way through we got a call over the PA for the Australian group to come immediately to the Basilica.

We were told that we would just be participating in the English Mass taking place. Our call was to tell us that we were it. Our Bishops worked quickly and planned the liturgy. We had no journals or musical instruments nor had we chosen hymns. Not a problem from the one book we used our phones to take pics of the hymns. We would be ok singing with out a guitar as there were only 60 of us. SO blissfully ignorant of the now filling nave we began. The acoustics made us sound amazing. It was only when it came to Communion that we realised we were singing to a packed congregation. For many to that point this was a high light of the pilgrimage.

We had a lovely afternoon wander Czestohowa, sampling the local food and atmosphere.


July 21st, 2016 by Lee Herden

Wonky time zones had us all up early and enjoying a great breakfast before starting our day exploring the vibrant and resilient city of Warsaw. We began with Mass at St John’s again with glorious light pouring over us from the monumental stain glass windows. Fr Crowley was our preacher today with Bishop McGuckin the chief celebrant. Fr Crowley lead us to reflect on two key phrases from the readings. Firstly that God knew us before we we born and from the Parable of the Sowrer a single word, Imagine. He invited us to have ears to listen as we journey on the pilgrimage to hear not only God speaking to us but God imagining for us……Imagine a sower went out to sow.

Jamaal, Tim, Sarah, Max, Amy, Faughan lead our music with guitar, voice, drums, shares and tambors, our prayers resources ding in the vaults of the Cathedral. Following Mass we were invited into the crypt which a gift to us from the sacristan. We were able to see the tombs, graves and memorials to the great and humble of Warsaw.

Our city tour took us on a journey through time and space. As we kept hearing about the Poles desire to rebuild and thumb their noses at those who sought to destroy their faith, the words all that is old is new again kept echoing in my mind. Seeing shrapnel marked walls, the monograph of the Polish resistance the street markers of the Warsaw Ghetto were a constant and at times confronting challenge…… begs the questions where do they draw this strength to carry on, to keep being faithful to patiently endure such suffering like Job of old. This is contrasted by the colour and vibrancy of the old city. Flowers line the streets and eating areas in the squares. The buildings reflect the hues of summer and the flags of all nations remind us that people from all over are here probably reflecting on the same questions.

Having the opportunity wander and find your own lunch was a great chance to enjoy the atmosphere. Everyone was amazed at the sense of welcome and hospitality and of course the range of food.

We visited the Uprising Museum to get a sense of the world Pope St John Paul. II grew up in. The museum was extraordinary and confronting. The imagery was brutal, the message clear, humanity can be bloody cruel and so In humane. But again the Uprising Museum highlighted the Polish people’s determined nation not to be subjugated and repressed. A surmise find was a small chapel within the museum bedecked with Warsaw martyr and a magnificent crucifix. It was nice to spend some moments of reflection their.

After a few hours to explore on our own, we gathered for vespers prior to dinner. For many this was a new way of praying. Bishop Michael gifted each pilgrim with a leather book of the Prayer of the Church and lead us through the way of praying. I must admit the sound of 69 pilgrims in a public dining room was awesome, especially when I noticed the wait staff actually joined in in Polish via their phones.

A great way to enter more fully into our pilgrimage.

Arrived in Warsaw

July 20th, 2016 by Lee Herden

Amy Roff and Gerard Ryan waiting for luggage. Warsaw.

After a long day of travel, the Cairns, Armidale, Wollongong and Toowwomba ( CAWT) pilgrimage group all arrived safe and sound in the Polish capital of Warsaw. After a much anticipated check in at our hotel for showers and a change of clothing, we made our way into the main part of the city to St John’s Cathedral. We passed through streets lined with flowers and summer crowds and were struck by the fact that the city was all but destroyed during WWII and that like a Phoenix the Poles rebuilt from the rubble of war the heart of their city including its many churches.
We gathered for Mass in the nave of the Cathedral with our three Bishops vested in WYD chasubles and were lead in singing by voices and music from Cairns, Toowoomba and Wollongong. Bishop Ingham was the principal celebrant and Fr Varney from Wollongong preached. In his homily Fr Varney challenged us to reflect on why we were on the pilgrimage and drew our minds to thinking about history and asked us to reflect on what we had learnt as Christiians through out history, what continues to draw us together in this place and being attentive to our Christian history we need to reflect that on history ask, what was the inspiration for the action? Where was the Holy Spirit active? Both good questions to ponder as we sat in the rebuilt Cathedral, in the rebuilt city in a country celebrating over 1000 years of Christianity.

Following Mass, we had our first dinner together as CAWT at a lovely restaurant overlooking the cobbled square. A great start to the pilgrimage to Kraków.

The journey begins.

July 18th, 2016 by Lee Herden

Like all adventures getting there is part of the fun. Some of the Armidale pilgrims, Toowwoomba and Cairns celebrated a pre departure dinner to get to know each other. There was much laughter and enjoyment. Today we went to St Peter Julian’s for a pre departure Mass. It was the most wonderful start to the day. The ladies at the desk were so excited that we were coming to Mass that they arranged for each of us to receive a Mary MacKillop Medal and Miraculous Medal. The priest made a fuss and blessed us on our journey. It was wonderful to be so welcomed into a community even just for an hour. The reading for today was perfect, it was from Micah and finished with those wonderful words of mercy we are so familiar with, act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.
Despite flight and traffic delays all our pilgrims from the four Dioceses are all checked in ready for our 25 hours journey to Warsaw.

Commissioned Pilgrims

July 15th, 2016 by Lee Herden

Thanks to “Catie’s Captures” for this image of some of the Armidale Pilgrims heading to Poland. Eddie Sadgrove, Lee Herden, Bishop Kennedy, Gerard Ryan, Henry Buckman, Renee Austin, Lauren Donnelly, Edward Ryan, Amy Roff, Katie McMineman, Courtney MAce, Mary Davison and Fr Afu. Each pilgrim received a rosary and pilgrim cross from Bishop Michael

Bishop Kennedy’s Homily Commissioning Mass

July 13th, 2016 by Lee Herden

Commissioning Mass for WYD Pilgrims
Year C 15th Sunday
Every human being and all of humanity has a spirit of adventure. It is stronger in some of us than in others, but we all have it; we are all seekers, we are all searching. When I was a boy my brothers and I liked to search the caves and the pine forest in the hills at the back of our farm. We were scared of the boogeymen that we suspected might live in the eerie pine forest, and we dared not even imagine what we might find in the darkness of the caves! But we loved to go there anyway to see what we might find. Read the rest of this entry »

Gathering in Kraków

July 12th, 2016 by Lee Herden

Soon our group will depart to journey to Kraków it will be a spiritual adventure. We will join millions of Catholics from all over the world to celebrate our universal faith.

The Blog Is Reactivated!

July 3rd, 2016 by Lee Herden

After a long break our WYD blog is operational. This will be where all the news for our pilgrimage will be noted.