Archive for July, 2013

Journeying Home

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Apologies for the gap in blogging as all pilgrims are on their way home. We left Rio at 1:45 am flight to Buenos Aires all of us catching some sleep for a few hours. We arrived at BA to fog and had to land at a different airport. This created a few hassles as we all had to go through immigration. One pilgrim had a few problems with his papers but this was resolved.The group were then bussed to the correct airport and rechecked in. All that done those heading home began their 15-5 hour flight all arriving in Sydney safely.

The blog doesn’t end though as our pilgrims will have a few reflections to add, plus there are new video links included in previous entries. The Bishop features in a few dancing Bishop clips and does very well.

The next WYD will be in Poland in 2016.

Paro1 Pilgrims Celebrate Mass with the Holy Father with Millions

Monday, July 29th, 2013

After sleeping out our pilgrims celebrated Mass with Pope Francis at Copacabana Beach. Bishop Michael was in the first row behind the cardinals, which was a great spot to be. Our pilgrims were in good locations and celebrated with millions of pilgrims from all nations. The Holy Father’s message given at his homily is in the blog entry below. He has some great things to say which tie in so well with the lessons taught to us by the bishops at catechesis. Take time to read it please.

The pilgrims are on their back to Aussie Central to pack as we all begin to depart. Most of us fly to BA tonight at 1:45 am. So we will all sleep well.

Not all our pilgrims went to the final Mass Fr Steve said Mass at Aussie Central for those who were sick, tired or working to get pilgrims ready to depart for home. The Mass was timed to be with the one at Copacabana. Following Mass there was an opportunity for Adoration.

What touched me however, was that a small group of our pilgrims decided to forgo the Papal Mass and to live out Pope Francis’ message. After Mass with Fr Steve, they went and distributed food, clothing and kindness to the poor who live around the port area. The joy this brought to them was amazing. I accompanied them for a short while before returning to helping check luggage and pack pilgrims. I was touched by them actually putting the spirit of WYD to work. They were with the Pope for the vigil but decided that today they would do more. They then came back and volunteered to pack the luggage for 87 Paro2 pilgrims onto buses so that after the Mass the buses could pick them up at the end of the beach and get them to Sao Paulo for their flights to Santiago.

Pope’s WYD Message Rio 2013

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s message to young people in preparation for World Youth Day 2013 which will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

Dear young friends,

I greet all of you with great joy and affection. I am sure that many of you returned from World Youth Day in Madrid all the more “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col2:7). This year in our Dioceses we celebrated the joy of being Christians, taking as our theme: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). And now we are preparing for the next World Youth Day, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013.

Before all else, I invite you once more to take part in this important event. The celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking that beautiful Brazilian city will be an eloquent symbol for us. Christ’s open arms are a sign of his willingness to embrace all those who come to him, and his heart represents his immense love for everyone and for each of you. Let yourselves be drawn to Christ! Experience this encounter along with all the other young people who will converge on Rio for the next World Youth Day! Accept Christ’s love and you will be the witnesses so needed by our world. (more…)

Pilgrim Walk

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

After a late night last night pilgrims were up nice and early to participate in the pilgrim walk to Copacabana Beach. Wendy and Eliza left before 7 am and made it to the beach in a few hours. The larger group led by Dallas left at 10am and arrived around 5 pm. As the blog is being written there are reports of 3 million people on the beach and they are still coming in.

Pilgrims on the move to Copacabana

Christ the Redeemer

The pilgrim walk was a wonderful experience with pilgrims from all corners of the globe. The walk wound its way through the streets of Rio to Vivo Rio where pilgrims collected their meal boxes containing five meals. The walk then took us along little bays and parkland with amazing views of Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer. As we went through tunnels all the pilgrims broke into song so that the tunnel echoed with song.

Pilgrim lunch boxes

My walk took 2.5 hours and was a wonderful experience. One of the great things was the military, who were providing additional support to the police to direct crowds and traffic, were giving out prayer cards with the Peace Prayer of St Francis. I met up with Paro2 pilgrims on the beach. We saw the Bishops dance. The whole beach is alive with colour sound and excitement. Some of the pilgrims will sleep out on Copacabana while the rest will make their way back to Aussie Central after the vigil.

On the beach flying the flag proudly


Tomorrow is the Mass with Pope Francis which should be a wonderful experience for all who attend. After the Mass all pilgrims make their way back to Aussie Central for our return journey home. Four will stay in Rio going on other trips,10 others will stay on in Buenos Aires while the remainder of the group of 21 will fly home to Sydney. Sadly our months of preparation and our two weeks of pilgrimage are drawing to an end.

Pope Francis en route

Way of the Cross

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

After Catechesis and Mass we had lunch and pilgrims made their way down to stations of the cross.

Final Catechesis

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Today marks the end of catechesis. We were lucky to have the Cardinal Archbishop of Durban Cardinal Napier. The theme today was “Go Forth, Be Missionaries”. The cardinal said that when we consider how well we are missionaries there are five key questions we need to consider.
1. Who am I?
2. Where do I come from?
3. Why am I here?
4. Where am I going?
5. How am I going to get there?

Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban RSA


He went on to say that these are deep questions when you stop to think about them. Clearly God is at their heart for it has been through our baptism that we have been chosen, called and sent to be missionaries. To be a missionary doesn’t necessarily mean being out there vocally proclaiming the Gospel but it means reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need. It is through our care of and response to others that we then begin to proclaim the Good News. True missionaries then walk with Christ, they build the Church with their faith and finally they profess Jesus. Christ remains central to all we do and we cannot exclude the cross in all we do for if we do we become merely another NGO.

As we are called to be missionaries, especially to the poor, how then do we do that. Most importantly, the Cardinal said, we must respect their dignity. To helps us as missionaries to do this and to be mission to the world we must be faithful to the teachings of the apostles (New Testament), be faithful to the community (we cannot be apart from a community), be faithful to the Eucharist, be faithful to prayer especially personal prayer and be faithful to true Christian charity.

Following the Cardinal’s catechesis we celebrated Mass. The Bishop’s were robed in gold and it look spectacular. Before the final blessing Cardinal Napier asked each Bishop and priest to introduce themselves. There were Bishops from Australia and Lincoln Nebraska and priests from Nebraska, Philippines, Boston, Croatia, Perth, Parramatta and Armidale.

When Bishop Michael introduced himself he made mention of his pilgrim group and the whole of Paro1 and 2 erupted in cheering. The Bishop was the only one to mention his group. But all the priests from Armidale and Parramatta were greeted with thunderous cheers. The Americans tried but we beat them on the noise stakes.

We were very lucky to have Steve Angrisano as our animator musician. He led us in very active songs as well as quiet contemplative ones. There is something to be said for a big church full of people responding. Two of the highlights were Lean on Me with Fr Larry and a Kuwaiti and then the Kuwaiti group teaching us a song.

Change of Venue for Vigil and Mass

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

The Local Organizing Committee of the World Youth Day (COL) reports that, due to climatic conditions, the events planned for the Campus Fidei in Guaratiba, will be held on Copacabana beach. The pilgrimage of 13 km cannot be done. Unlike what would have happened in Campus Fidei, where participants would be in vigil all night long, the program in Copacabana will limit to the Prayer Vigil with Pope Francis (scheduled on Saturday 27 at 19.30) and restart on Sunday 28, at 10 am, with the Mass celebrated by the Pope.

“It was a difficult decision, but responsible, always thinking in the safety of our pilgrims. Copacabana has always been our plan B, and now we must apply it. The pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro are already feeling the fruits of WYD. Let this WYD keep cheerful and happy,” said Msgr. Paulo Cezar Costa, vice president of the COL.
(Source Official WYD Site)

Adventure in Seeing the Pope

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

As you can imagine Copacabana Beach was as ea of people from all over the world. Of course Brazil is very well represented. We had to buy additional railtickets which allowed travel between 2 and 3 as a way to manage the volume of pilgrims.

Our group were well place along the roads, on shoulders and up trees. The end result being everyone one way or another saw the Pope. With the volume of people getting home was a challenge as stations were opening and closing according to volume of traffic using a particular station. But constant text updates helped us keep track of each other and know which stations were open.

Peaceful and Calm

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

You may have seen on the Australian news an item about demonstrations in Rio. There was indeed a demonstration last night but it was held after all the events out of respect for WYD. The issues was unrelated to WYD. It was a protest on money being spent on the World Cup. All pilgrims are safe and accounted for.

Papal Welcome

Friday, July 26th, 2013