The Papal welcome at Blonia Park on July 28 drew a crowd of hundreds of thousands once again despite rain.
The faithful gathering had the air of a concert, with singers of different nationalities taking the stage along with Polish, Indian, African and Argentine dancers in the hours before a Gospel reading and Pope Francis’ address to the young people present.
Surrounded by Italian, French, Filipino and other pilgrim groups, the Sydney Catholic Schools crowd drummed, danced, talked and swapped national tokens including hats and flags before tuning into the English translation on radio as Pope Francis spoke.
He includes every language, every nationality, every age.
With her Italian language skills, Bethlehem College Ashfield Year 12 student Kristina Sergi, 16, translated on her own.
She said Pope Francis’ call to be merciful in different ways, and to live out the Gospel and be the change within the Church hit the mark.
“It’s inspiring because the youth are often mocked for believing in something as big as a religion,” she said. “I love the fact that the Pope believes in us, and says the youth aren’t the Church of tomorrow, we’re already the church of today. I’m forever grateful for this experience.”
Kristina said part of Pope Francis’ appeal was that he treated people equally.
“I was in Year 9 when he first became Pope and didn’t really know much about him. The thing that got me was that he has Twitter. He makes things so much more accessible. He has his Instagram posts in 40 different languages. He includes every language, every nationality and every age.”