World Youth Day 2008 Blog

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On the Way to Sydney!

Youth with ticketsOur youth pilgrims are on their way to Sydney!

Katie has sent back some airport photos as well as a brief update on the progress. (Click here for the gallery)

From Katie:

Our third of the group has made it to Chicago and are now waiting for our flight to Los Angeles, where we will meet up with the other two flights of pilgrims from Indianapolis.

Everyone is excited and ready to get to Los Angeles and on to the LONG flight!

See the photo gallery from the L.A. airport

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 8:26 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Second Airport Update

Katie writes:

All three groups have arrived in Los Angeles now and are waiting to get on our flight to Brisbane, Australia which leaves at 11:20 p.m. Pacific time (2:20 a.m. Indianapolis time).

The atmosphere here at the airport is awesome. There are tons of groups from all over the country who are also heading out for World Youth Day. We're now just gearing up for our long flight. Pray for us on our long journey!

More on July 11 when we arrive in Brisbane.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 2:34 a.m. on Thursday, July 10, 2008


Arrival in Australia

Youth arrive in AustraliaG’day mates!  We made it!  At 6:20 a.m., after a 13 hour plane ride, we arrived in Brisbane, Australia!  All 90 of us arrived – a little tired, but overall still excited.  Most people got at least a few hours of sleep – some more than others.  We lost July 10 since we crossed the international dateline on the way.  It’s kind of a weird experience to have lost an entire day! (Click here for a photo gallery)

 Once we got in the country we had to go through customs and several of our group members had to throw away dried fruit, beef jerky and nuts as they weren’t allowed in the country, but it was a relatively small situation.  We then met our tour guide, Jim, who directed us on to two buses – appropriately named the “kangaroo” and “koala” buses.  We rode the buses to Mount Coot-tha lookout which gave the group a scenic overlook of the city of Brisbane and then to another look out of the city before heading to Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Brisbane.  There, we broke up into groups and received tours of the cathedral and its small chapel next door, which contained a statue of Saint Mary Mackillop, Australia’s only Blessed – a step away from being canonized a saint. We then finally went to the cathedral’s normal daily Mass followed by a lunch on the lawn of the cathedral.  The priest who was the main celebrant for Mass was very hospitable.  He even posed for a group picture with us afterwards.

We had the opportunity to walk around a little this afternoon before going to our hotel at about 4 p.m. to check in and FINALLY shower.   The entire group ate an early dinner at a local Italian restaurant and had free time afterwards.  That is where I sit now – at a coffee shop at the end of a long day of flying and sightseeing.  Most of the group, by now, has returned to the hotel for some sleep.  Since it is winter in Australia it, like the United States, gets dark very early so many are feeling even more tired.

Besides being extremely tired and fighting the urge to sleep all day, the group is still doing really well.  I’ve heard remarks from many about how cool the Australian accent is.   We’re all doing the best we can to pick up a few Australian words to bring home.  We’re also getting used to seeing cars driving on the left side of the road instead of the right, as well as walking down the sidewalk on the left.

Tomorrow is have another full day of sights.  Our day includes an early breakfast, Mass, a quick stop at a beach with many shops and finally to the Australia Zoo.

See the photo gallery from our first day in Australia

(If you have an emergency and need to reach our pilgrims while they are in Australia,
call 0447295474.)

Posted by Katie Berger at 12:19 p.m. on Friday, July 11, 2008


Group Photo

Group photoYou may have noticed a group photo of our pilgrims in the photo gallery attached to the last post ("Arrival in Australia").

I e-mailed Katie and told her to send me a high-resolution copy of that image. Even though it's early in the morning on Saturday in Australia (and afternoon in Indianapolis), she was up and complied.

Click on the photo to the right for a larger version, or the link below for the largest possible version.

Largest version of the group photo (1.5 MB; JPEG format)

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 5:53 p.m. on Friday, July 11, 2008


Day at the Beach and Zoo

Youth at the zooOur second full day in Australia began with a breakfast in the basement of our hostel consisting of cereal, fruit, juice and coffee.  Then, the whole group walked to Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, the local parish, which is the second oldest church in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.  We had a few parishioners join us followed by an awesome reception they threw for us.  They had many trays of little sandwiches, cookies and cakes.  We have all been so impressed by the great hospitality of all the Aussie people here. 

It has also been incredible that here we are all the way across the world and still can go to Mass and know exactly what to do and say.  Especially by our experiences here and with the parishioners today of St. Patrick parish, we have seen how the Church truly is universal.

After Mass and the reception, we loaded our “kangaroo” and “koala” buses for about an hour drive down the coast to a town called Mooloolaba, where we had free time to explore.  We walked around by the beach, climbed the rocks and some of the brave even ventured in the Pacific Ocean.  I, on the other hand, was not one of the brave…I just put my feet in.  For winter, the ocean wasn’t too bad.  Many also grabbed lunch and went into a few little shops.  (Click here for a photo gallery)

Our final stop of the day was to the Australia Zoo, the zoo started by the parents of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.  Though Steve Irwin died a couple years ago, the zoo still has his picture all over and all his items in the gift shop for sale. Most of us would say that the highlight was the kangaroo exhibit, where kangaroos just roamed around freely.  They were extremely tame and easy to approach and feed.  It was a great photo opportunity to say the least.  Many also fed elephants, petted koala bears, tried to photograph the Tasmanian devils that ran around like crazy.

The group headed back to the hostel, had dinner there and had the evening free.  Tonight is the last night in this hostel in Brisbane.  Tomorrow we begin the drive down the coast, making our way down to Sydney.   We’ll stay tomorrow night in the Coff’s Harbour area.

See the photo gallery from our day at the beach and zoo

Posted by Katie Berger at 1:01 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, 2008


Update for July 13 and 14

Youth in the woodsSorry for the delay on getting this posting.  Last night we arrived at youth camp, which was located far away from any wireless internet.  I can’t tell you much about where we were or what the surrounding looked like there because we arrived well after dark.  It’s winter here, so definitely by 6 p.m. it is very dark.  It’s an odd feeling because we’ve all been used to being in Indiana where it now gets dark in the summer at well past 9 p.m.  Some nights it has been only 7 p.m. and I, and many others, have felt like it was already time to sleep. (Click here for a photo gallery)

We were joined at the camp by at small group of pilgrims from Riverview, Florida.  This group actually was on the same flight with us from LAX to Brisbane and some of our group had met them at the airport.  The camp was a Seventh Day Adventist camp that hosted us for the night.  Like many of our previous experiences here in Australia, they were super welcoming to us. The camp had cabins with several rooms in each and was divided into a boys and girls cabins.  We had a good dinner followed by Sunday Mass in the camp’s chapel.  Before heading to bed, we had an icebreaker for the group to continue to get to know one another and group sharing time in sets of four.  The group members shared about their favorite spiritual sites and about times in their lives when they felt struggles, persecutions or trial.  This time was particularly important as we today head towards Sydney and transition into the start of the official World Youth Day events. 

Sydney HarborBefore arriving at our site, yesterday was a day of primarily bus riding, as we made our way down the coast to eventually today arriving in Sydney.  We did, however, have a couple of really great stops.  This morning we packed our bags and loaded them on to the bus before breakfast as we spend our last night in Brisbane.  The daring tried Vegemite on toast this morning.  We rode a bit on the bus to Hinterland and Springbrook Park along the Gold Coast.  We had about an hour to walk around. It was a beautiful hike, with large trees and a glow worm colony.  There were was no light allowed in the glow worm colony so I wasn’t able to take any pictures.   From there we rode for several hours, stopped briefly for lunch.  Most ate at “Hungry Jacks” which is the Australian Burger King.  By late afternoon we made it to “The Big Banana’ where we went tobogganing down a hill side.  We were running behind so none of the shops were open but they were gracious enough to keep the toboggan track open for us.   The tobogganing was definitely a hit with the group.

Today then, the group gathered for breakfast which along with more common items we might think of (juice, cereal, pastries), we also were given  “traditional” Australian breakfast items like spaghetti over toast and baked beans.  Yes, that’s right:  spaghetti and baked beans for breakfast!  They weren’t really popular with most in the group but I give them all credit because most people tried it.  I couldn’t get past the fact that I was eating spaghetti for breakfast. (Click here for a photo gallery)

Really today, like yesterday was almost all driving. It seems the group is getting tired of being on the bus but fortunately we’ve come to the end of bus riding.  We arrived in the evening at St. Christopher’s School, our home for the next week during all of World Youth Day.  There, we are sharing our facilities with pilgrims from the Congo in Africa who will be arriving later and some from Melbourne, Australia.  We are staying in the classrooms here at the school, with a total of three bathrooms for everyone. We’ll make it work.  Tonight after we arrived we immediately had Mass followed by a dinner prepared for us by the parishioners of St. Christopher.

Now, on to World Youth Day!  Be assured that all of our family, friends, benefactors, and the parishioners from our parishes back in Indiana are certainly in our daily prayers.  Please continue to keep our group in prayer.  Pray especially that our group continues to be flexible and patient in the coming days and that their hearts are open to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Pray, too, for the thousands of pilgrims from all over the world that are still in route to Sydney.

See the photo gallery from July 13

See the photo gallery from July 14

Posted by Katie Berger at 9:08 a.m. on Monday, July 14, 2008


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