The World Youth Day (WYD) New Zealand and Australia 2008
While the word “pilgrimage” is a term not often used today, it is the best descriptor of what seventeen travelers, from Vermont and
New York, just experienced. As modern day pilgrims, we traveled a great distance, were sheltered by helpful strangers, and overcame obstacles en
route to our end destination - the WYD Mass with Pope Benedict in Sydney. Among the memorable challenges were a shower shared by 200 people,
food that turned your stomach, floors for beds, and undelivered sleeping bags. Such is the nature of a pilgrimage, but growth in our relationship with
God through the experience is what counts.
The first leg of our journey in New Zealand was pretty cushy compared to what we would later encounter. Adventure seekers jumped off the Sky Tower
in Auckland and rolled down a hill inside a ball (Zorb). Everyone got to twist and turn, driving on the left side of the road (We remembered to stay left
most of the time), through spectacular mountains and bizarre landscapes characterized by the innumerable steaming pools, craters and vents created
from colliding tectonic plates.
We then skipped over the Tasman Sea to Melbourne, Australia (It seemed like a skip compared to our other flights, but it was actually four hours).
Our hosts were amused by our fascination with kangaroos, but humored us with a trip to an animal sanctuary. They also took us to an Australian
Football match, a unique version of football to say the least. As we continued our trek toward Sydney, the pilgrimage became more challenging and
serious. It was breaking us in slowly.
However, in Sydney we saw the church as it really is - not an old, stuffy institution, but one that is vibrant and alive! The WYD pilgrimage is an official
and permanent part of our faith, a gift for the church; it is a gift we should all take advantage of - one that can help us accept the Holy Spirit and
transform our lives.
...and the pilgrimage continues to Madrid, Spain in three years time. Save Vermont.Org is teaming with the Diocese of Burlington,
Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish and St. Augustine Parish to take the lead in organizing this spiritual journey for Vermont and the North Country.
At World Youth Day 2008, the Pope charged us, upon his arrival, to bring several messages back from Sydney. Central to these messages was our
need to focus on the Holy Spirit, to accept its gifts, and be transformed by the Holy Spirit. When we do this, we become truly alive and are able to
transform communities and the world, a world that desperately needs this renewal.
Over the next three years, I plan to spread this message of hope and encourage many more from the North Country to attend the next WYD in
Madrid, Spain. Perhaps a WYD pilgrimage may be the next step you need to take in your relationship with God. If so, contact me through this
website and remember, WYD is not just for the youth.
May God bless you,