July 18, 2008

World Youth Day pilgrims experience Aussie hospitality

Two archdiocesan World Youth Day pilgrims do the “kangaroo hop” with a resident of the Australia Zoo near Beerhwah on July 12. (Photo by Katie Berger)

Two archdiocesan World Youth Day pilgrims do the “kangaroo hop” with a resident of the Australia Zoo near Beerhwah on July 12. (Photo by Katie Berger)

By Katie Berger (Special to The Criterion)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—From petting kangaroos to tobogganing down a hillside, youth and young adult pilgrims from the archdiocese who traveled to Australia for World Youth Day spent the week prior to formal festivities exploring sights around the country.

Now, the 91 pilgrims from central and southern Indiana are looking forward to a July 20 Mass that will be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

Since their arrival in Australia on July 11, the archdiocesan group has been warmly welcomed by the Australian people throughout their sightseeing stops. (For a frequently updated archdiocesan World Youth Day weblog and photos from the pilgrimage, log on to www.archindy.org/wyd.)

“Australians are a very kind group of people—their hospitality is like no other,” said Amanda Brinkman, 17, a member of St. Mary Parish in Mitchell in the Bloomington Deanery.

One such example was at a local parish in Brisbane, where the parishioners of St. Patrick Parish threw a reception for the Indianapolis group following Mass celebrated in their church.

St. Patrick parishioner Anne McNulty, who helped coordinate the pilgrims’ visit in the parish, said a lot of preparation went into organizing events to host the international guests, but it was worth it.

“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege,” McNulty said.

For four days after their arrival, the group had arranged tours at a variety of local sights in and around the Brisbane area, several hours north of Sydney.

They toured St. Stephen Cathedral, the mother church for the Archdiocese of Brisbane, strolled along the beaches of Australia’s Pacific coast, and spent time at the Australia Zoo, made famous by the late Steve Irwin, also known as the “Crocodile Hunter.”

At the zoo, the pilgrims petted kangaroos and koala bears, fed elephants and attended a show about crocodiles.

Later in the trip, the group spent time walking around Hinterland and Springbrook Park along the Gold Coast to see some of Australia’s natural beauty. They also stopped at the “Big Banana” where each person took a turn tobogganing down the hillside.

Starting earlier this week, the pilgrims’ attention turned to the events of World Youth Day, which runs from July 15-20 in Sydney. The pilgrims have been participating in daily catechetical presentations, Mass and evening events, such as concerts and the sacrament of reconciliation and eucharistic adoration.

“The excitement is starting to build, and that’s really exciting,” said Matt Trossman, a young adult father of three from Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg.

Trossman, who comes to World Youth Day after a year of ups and downs, sees the pilgrimage as a time to re-energize.

His health problems—combined with those of his father-in-law and grandmother as well as his wife’s car accident—left him needing a boost. At the urging of his wife, he decided to be a part of the pilgrimage to Australia.

“As we got closer, it turned and progressed into my voyage,” he said. “I realized how important this trip was for me as a time to rejuvenate my mind.”

Many of the pilgrims bring similar stories. They now wait for the chance to meet people from around the world, and take time out of their ordinary day-to-day lives to pray and renew their own journeys of faith. †

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