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I’ve had this in drafts for almost 5 years haha. But I thought it would be good to finally publish it now because I’m going to WYD RIO!!! It’ll be different this time. Not just because I’m not a volunteer and I’m travelling to a different continent. Mostly because my faith has taken on another dimension since.

I was going to post this very close to the draft that I had kept, but it was way too embarrassing. Seriously, who did I think I was? So here is 19 year old me, edited by 24 year old me.

Tuesday 15th July 2008

First day of WYD, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited beyond belief. I was rostered on to volunteer at Barangaroo that day and got completely lost so I wandered around Cockle Bay Wharf for about an hour. I acted like the perfect tourist, taking in all the sights and appreciating the atmosphere created by the pilgrims who had invaded Sydney, marked by their yellow and orange backpacks, colourful flags and jovial spirit. Although I was wandering the streets alone, I never felt alone. LOL LAME! While volunteering I really enjoyed greeting everyone (Kumusta! Halo! Ola! Bula! Bonjour! Bonjourno! Aloha! Kiaora!) and having a little chinwag haha. That night I got to hang out with my brothers and sisters in YFC and we enjoyed the sights and sounds. When we left and were at Cockle Bay, the fireworks went off and it was soooooo beautiful.


Wednesday 16th July 2008

I was rostered to volunteer that day too, but while I dropped my sister off to meet up with YFC Sydney, it took a whole lot of convincing (not!) to ditch volunteering and join them in catechesis in Glebe and later on to Bondi to see the singer Passion! At the catechesis, I heard the story of a Middle Eastern priest who studied in Rome and was offered a position to pastor in Europe. He refused, saying that he believed that God had called him to preach in the Middle East, knowing the danger and the opposition that he would encounter. Late 2007, after closing up the parish Church in the Middle East where he was serving, he and two other deacons were murdered by vigilantes who disagreed with their work. I was so inspired by his story. It’s rare to see a modern day martyr, someone so passionate about what they believe in that they’re willing to die for it.

At the catechesis I also met a couple awesome people, mostly from Hawaii. It was great to be able to go up to anyone, despite age, background and origin and have a great conversation, knowing that they would love to talk to you too and exchange mementos.

Then off to Bondi! Thankfully, right in the middle of winter, the weather was pretty good – Sydney was putting on a good show for the foreigners. After frolicking on the beach, we settled down  and watched some Chinese Dragons dancing (I don’t know how this relates to God or Jesus or anything. I guess culture? Acceptance?) Then the whole of YFC Sydney cluster turned into raving groupies when Passion came out.

Thursday 17th July 2008

I was again rostered to volunteer and actually went, but this time I was accompanied by my “sister” Gez. We had a mad time getting angry at the paid workers, befriending mother volunteers and sneaking off to catch a glimpse of the Pope.

The volunteer mums snuck some food in our bags. They were awesome lol. We met up with Gene and just hung around not wanting the night to end. We ended up in Hyde Park, which was filled with youth who were not causing mayhem, to the relief and surprise of the Police. We were still in our sexy volunteer uniform when a few  (very cute) French pilgrims came up to us asking where they were able to get a feed. We told them that the walk to the food stations was really far and the faces just dropped. We offered them the food we had in our bags, which wasn’t a warm meal they would have gotten, but their faces just lit back up 🙂


Saturday 19th July 2008

I met up with Gez, Donna, Elle and 2 of her mates and volunteered at Randwick. At first it was reallllly quiet cuz everyone was doing the pilgrim walk, so we were hanging out, getting weirded out by the paid workers who were taking random photos of us and dancing around to Fr. Stan’s rapping. By the time Randwick got full, we were busy as. I reeeeeked of Hot Chocolate and Soup and it was awesome. I felt bad that we didn’t have much to offer them.

Late that night, I met up with Vince and we walked the whole diameter of Randwick racecourse. The Polish were seriously on a podium celebrating really loudly for 3hours straight. We passed them at least 5 times and not once were they not singing or yelling. We passed by 2 South American dances, where musicians stay in the middle and everyone else does this really repetitive dance around them and singing Ave Maria in Spanish. Neither of us had been to reconciliation so we decided to go to one of the tents set up for it. On the way, we saw Jorge and his friend who was in a wheelchair who decided to come with us. If you were at Randwick racecourse, you would know how rough and un-wheelchair friendly the terrain was. There were ditches, planks of wood, 0.5m drops and stuff. Moreover, we were on one side of the racecourse and the tent we had to get to was on the other side! Needless to say, it was a really rough ride for Jorge’s friend (who I now know, but I’m not sure if he’d be embarassed if I name him). The width of the pathways could only accomodate one person and not one person was impatient, or rushed by and heaps of people even helping us to lift him over ditches.  ❤ Pilgrim spirit ❤ Catholic spirit. And tt was so inspiring to see how much he wanted to go to confession. Halfway though, we reached a MASSIVE drop and he felt like too much of a burden, especially seeing as he had to go all the way back, so we parted ways.

We finally reached that tent really late at night. Despite this late hour, it was full of young people wanting to receive confession before we were led into mass by the Holy Father the next day. There were priests stationed all around the room and people scattered everywhere, but in the front was the Blessed Sacrament exposed. That was the first time I had ever experienced adoration. I didn’t understand what I was doing, but while waiting in line, I was transfixed by Christ held in the shiny gold monstrance. I got into confession and spilled my heart out as I never had before to a priest that had a different accent. While doing my penance, I was in front of the Blessed Sacrament and I just cried. Praise God Vince knew that I didn’t need him to comfort me, but I also didn’t want him to leave me by myself.

Sunday 20th July 2008

I don’t remember much of this day, but I do remember struggling to stay awake at mass. Vince’s face popped in my head saying, “Don’t worry, you’re only gonna go to hell.”

But I felt very blessed to be able to see the Pope and hear him give a homily, even if I didn’t understand.

I also wanted to share this, I don’t remember where it fits in though. So as part of the the WYD SYD organisers tried to “beautify” the city by moving the homeless in the city streets to a different location. But there was one morning we (and by we, I have no idea) caught the train to St James and there was one homeless man at the end of the tunnel. Usually Sydney-siders wouldn’t even glance his way. But the pilgrims left so much food for him, it was actually like a little mountain.


I’m sure I will tell you about my South American pilgrimage. Hopefully it won’t take me five years to post. btw the photos aren’t mine – I’m not just bad at posting, I’m also bad at taking and storing photos


Written by Candice

May 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

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