Archbishop blesses Sydney pilgrims ahead of journey

WYD16 commissioning mass

Pilgrims attend Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral before departing for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.

Pilgrims who will make their way to Krakow, Poland for this year’s World Youth Day events received a blessing and ‘Bon voyage’ from Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher this morning at a commissioning mass held at St Mary’s Cathedral.

More than 800 young people, half from Sydney Catholic Schools, attended the mass with parents, teachers and friends.

Archbishop Fisher said  Australia’s youngest Bishop-elect, Richard Umbers, would accompany pilgrims in his place, as doctors have asked the Archbishop to not travel overseas now he is recovery from the rare neurological condition, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which caused him temporary paralysis.  He thanked the young pilgrims for having “the faith, imagination and courage to embrace the opportunity World Youth Day presents.

After events like this you feel like you are going to have the greatest experience of your life.

– Brendan Hareau, 15

In his homily he drew parallels between Henry Cavill’s Superman in the 2013 film Man of Steel and the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“We are called human beings, as if we were already complete, but we are really human becomings,” he said. “We are making ourselves by our choices. Like Clark Kent and the Good Samaritan, we need to decide what kind of people to be. Like the apostles and Mary Magdalene we can give our all to the adventure of the Gospel.

“Hopefully your choice, right now, from today, is to be ever more truly Christ’s disciple, an example of mercy received and mercy given. That’s the beginning of being a spiritual superhero, the ‘merciful’ our world needs.”

A word on the saints

Archbishop Fisher also referred in his homily to the event’s patron saints, nominated by Pope Francis: World Youth Day founder and former Pope St John Paul II, and St Faustina, who reported having visions of Jesus and conversations with him throughout her life. This inspired the Roman Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy. He said:

“The saints dispose … make space for God amidst the tribulations of daily life. And in becoming His space, their lives become a space in which others may find Him.

“This World Youth Day you will keep company with many living saints and saints-in-the-making. Pope Francis has also given you particular patron saints for your pilgrimage. In such saints you will see human beings truly themselves and finally fulfilled, a promise to each of us that if we are willing to enter into the kingdom of God wholeheartedly as Christ’s disciples He will make a masterpiece of us too.”

XT3 live streamed the mass.  View the webcast here.

Crowds prepare for Venice, Rome, the Holy Land, Prague, Krakow …

Watching the students, teachers, chaplains, youth ambassadors and others assemble on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral after the commissioning Mass for a group photo to mark the occasion was a taste of the crowds and excitement that are to come while on the World Youth Day journey.

Family members and passers by whipped out their smartphones while the official photographer stood on a ladder to get the crowd on more than 800 people into the frame.

We also took the opportunity to ask some pilgrims and their family members how they felt about the impending journey.

Sandra Barakat’s daughter Tiana and niece Rochelle will make their World Youth Day pilgrimage via Italy. Both are students at Trinity Catholic College Auburn.

Sandra said: “I’m nervous, they’re not. I wanted Tiana to experience this because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. To attend Mass with the Pope especially will be just amazing and enlightening. I hope it makes them stronger people and brings them closer to their faith. My daughter had a major surgery for severe scoliosis of her back two years ago, so I hope that she enjoys it [World Youth Day]. After all of the hardship she has been through this is a good thing to come out of it.”

Tiana:

Best piece of travel advice you’ve been given?

“My mum told me about a hundred times to watch my bag and belongings.”

What are you most looking forward to?

“Mass with the Pope.”

WYD16 commissioning mass - Julia and Madeline Ryan

Brigidine College Randwick Year 10 students and twins Julia and Madeline Ryan are on the Venice to Rome pilgrimage before the events in Krakow.

Julia said: “I’m really excited. For the plane trip too.”

What are most looking forward to during the pilgrimage?

“Probably the sleep out. Everyone’s together and there will be a great sense of community.”

Madeline:

What are you most looking forward to during the pilgrimage?

“I’m excited about the food and culture. I’m excited about meeting new people too.”

Have you brought any souvenirs to swap with people from other countries?

“We’ve got little Koalas and Kangaroos and things to swap.”

WYD16 commisioning mass - Brendan Hareau

De La Salle College Ashfield Year 10 student Brendan Hareau, 15:

What are most looking forward to during the pilgrimage?

“At the start I was actually quite nervous because you’re going away and going to be away from your family, but after having events like this you feel like you are going to have the greatest experience of your life.”

“Also you’re going to create relationships, become closer to your faith and have a true understanding of the Catholic church.”

Will you try a slice of the Pope’s cake in Wadowice?

“What I’m hoping to do is get a selfie with him. Everybody’s hoping that.”

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