World Youth Day 2008 Blog

Back to the homepage | All pre-trip posts | July 9-14 posts | July 15-20 posts | July 21-24 posts


Winding Down

Seminarian with niece of Bl. Pier Giorgio FrassatiNot a lot to post today as the trip is winding down and groups had free time today. 

Everyone seemed exhausted today and sore from the night on the ground and the hike to and from the raceway.  Although the energy level was down now that World Youth Day is over, a more laid back day was welcomed and much appreciated. We were able to sleep in and go to Mass at 10 a.m.   

From what I hear, many groups went to the Sydney Aquarium, some up the Sydney Sky tower (like Seattle’s Space Needle), some went to the beach, most went souvenir shopping and wondered around the city. 

My group made a return trip to the cathedral and met Wanda, the niece of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.  Lafayette diocese seminarian Andy DeKeyser had met her previously on a trip he took with the Frassati Society to Italy so he recognized her. 

Today we also got word of the death of Zach Litzinger, the 17-year-old cousin of two of our pilgrims on the trip – Ryan and Justin Paul. Zach was killed a few days ago in a car accident.   Please pray for the Zach, and his family – his parents Gary and Geralyn Litzinger and his sister Haley, members of St. Anne Parish in Hamburg and for Ryan and Justin who remain with us on the rest of the trip and for his classmates, Joe Nobbe, Sara Slagle and Alex Wilhelm who are also with us on the trip.

See the photo gallery for July 21

Posted by Katie Berger at 9:20 a.m. on Monday, July 21, 2008


More WYD News

Katie sent along an interesting fact sheet containing the final statistics for World Youth Day:

Here are some more articles from Catholic News Service about the recent World Youth Day events:

The Vatican also has more speeches, homilies and news bulletins up:

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 2:34 p.m. on Monday, July 21, 2008


Another Free Day

Youth on a dinner cruiseSorry, not a lot to post today.  Today began just as yesterday did:  we woke up had breakfast here at St. Christopher’s and had Mass to begin the day. (Click here for a photo gallery)

We also had to pack up all of our belonging and move into the parish hall because the school children return in the morning.  The guys were all staying there last night, but tonight will be the first night all of us will be in there together.  No worries –we have a guy’s side and a girl’s side! 

We were able to have time free again today and groups did many different things again.  A few in our group climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, many took a ferry ride to Manly Beach, one of Sydney’s local beaches.  My group and many others went on a dinner cruise tonight that went along the Sydney Harbor and provided amazing views of the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and the skyline.

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Sydney.  Everyone, I would imagine, will be scrambling around to get last minute souvenirs and such.  We also have a couple of other things planned for the whole group, so stay tuned…

See the photo gallery for July 22

Posted by Katie Berger at 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Final Day in Australia

Youth talkingThis morning we woke up early and got on the train to North Sydney to go to the Shrine of Blessed Mary Mackillop, Australia’s only person beatified (one step away from being canonized a saint).  There, we attended Mass with the Sisters of Life from New York.  Following Mass we were able to spend time praying at the tomb of Mary Mackillop.  It was a great experience especially since she is one of the patronesses of this World Youth Day.

Once done there, groups were again able to have the afternoon free.  One group went out to the Blue Mountains, another to the beach, others to the aquarium and the Maritime Museum and still others just wandered around Sydney, shopped for the last souvenirs and “took in” the city.

We were asked to be back to St. Christopher’s tonight by 7 p.m. to join many of the teachers and other volunteers for a going-away barbeque held for us.  A group of local Samoans performed some of their native dances just before we ate, followed by talks by the pastor here and the assistant principal who spoke about how much of a blessing we had been for their community.  Father Meyer, on behalf of our group, thanked them for the immense amount of kindness and warm hospitality we had received from the entire parish and school communities.  I can’t say enough how wonderful the people of St. Christopher have been to us!

Most were back way before the 7 p.m. time because they were pretty exhausted and wanted to get back to pack for tomorrow.  As great as the trip has been, I would say most are ready to head home.  Many of us have been feeling under the weather, most likely because we’re just worn out.  I keep hearing everyone talk about how much they are looking forward to returning home to see their families, have some home cooked food and experience summer weather again.  I think being able to travel is an amazing thing because of all you can see and experience, but also because it makes returning home that much sweeter.  I would say that is where most of our group is right now.

Tonight, then, we spent several hours together processing what we had experienced.The group was invited one by one to come forward and share an experience or about what they “got” out of the trip.  Most did come forward and told of things such as:  how they signed up to go on a trip to Australia but were moved by the Holy Spirit once here, how they felt God calling them to a particular vocation, how they loved meeting people from around the world, how God healed their wounded hearts, how they felt God telling them to change the ways that they were living, and many more.  Hearing the stories of all the young people was terrific.  It shows you how the Holy Spirit is at work in many different ways in different people. (Click here for a photo gallery)

We depart tomorrow morning for the airport and all leave Sydney on the same flight to Los Angeles, which leaves around 1:30 p.m.  From L.A., we all take different flights to either Louisville or Indianapolis.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post tomorrow, but if not, I will try to send an update once we arrive is L.A.  Please pray for our safe travels.  Blessed Mary Mackillop…pray for us.

I also apologize for very few pictures today. I somehow deleted most of the day’s pictures off my camera by accident.

See the photo gallery for July 23

Posted by Katie Berger at 9:52 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Criterion News Coverage

Criterion photo spreadThe July 25, 2008 edition of The Criterion has been printed and is on its way to our subscribers.

Featured is a news story written by our blogger/pilgrim Katie Berger. She also wrote a piece for last week's issue.

I've posted her two stories below, and have also linked to a PDF file of the photo spread that is across the two center pages of our issue.


Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 4:23 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2008


We're Back!

Youth standingWe’re baaack.

This is the day that never ends!  We left on July 24th and still returned to the U.S. on the 24th. 

This morning we woke up early and packed everything up.  We had a tight schedule this morning so we had an early Mass at 7:30 a.m.  Father Maurice, the pastor of St. Christopher joined us.  By the time Mass was finished, it was raining so we had breakfast up under the overhang and then loaded our belongings on to the bus that would take us to the airport. (Click here for a photo gallery)

We then returned to the church and were joined by all the school children from St. Christopher’s.  It was one of my favorite moments from the entire trip.  They had put together a slide show of pictures from World Youth Day and prayed for us as we left.  Four students read poems they had written about World Youth Day.  They were the winners of a contest held before WYD.  We were invited up to the steps of the sanctuary where Father Meyer thanked the school for their hospitality and told the school children how comfortable the floors of their classrooms were. We got a lot of giggles. We then presented Fr. Maurice, Karen – the principal of the school, and Dean – the assistant principal of the school with an American flag signed by all of us. We also sang three songs for them:  The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and Sanctuary, a familiar and popular song at youth ministry events.  While we were still standing in front of the school, all the children sang for us their Australian national anthem.  We then closed in prayer and made our way through the crowd to board the bus as they waved to us.  It was a moving moment for us all.  I’m so excited to be heading home, but at the same time it was a tearful goodbye to a community who has so graciously and wonderfully welcomed us.  I keep writing about their hospitality, but truly they went above and beyond, well out of their way to make us feel at home.  God bless the people of St. Christopher parish and school!

Our buses took us to the Sydney airport where we all got checked in on our Qantas flight to Los Angeles.  Our flight boarded and even taxied out, but had to return to the gate because of a technical problem.  All in all, we were delayed about an hour.  The almost 13-hour flight went smooth.  We were served lunch first and then breakfast as we got closer to L.A.  We arrived in Los Angeles about an hour late at 10:30 a.m…retrieved our bags, went through customs and made it to the Southwest terminal, where we now all wait for our flights home.

See the photo gallery for July 24

Posted by Katie Berger at 5:24 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2008


Arrival in Indianapolis

Youth standingWe returned home last night at about 12:20 a.m. after a lay over in Phoenix and a long day of traveling.  We were welcomed back by our families - some even had banners!

  I'm confident in saying that we were all so excited to get home to our own beds and to showers.  Unfortunately, my own body has no idea what time it is as I couldn't fall asleep until 5 a.m.! 

I hope all the other pilgrims have now gotten some sleep and are relaxing.  We all deserve it!


See the photo gallery for this post


Posted by Katie Berger at 2:44 p.m. on Friday, July 25, 2008


More posts: All pre-trip posts | July 9-14 posts | July 15-20 posts | July 21-24 posts

Local site Links: