Pilgrims enriched by World Youth Day
The festivities that culminated in World Youth Day in Panama have now ended and the pilgrims from our Archdiocese are heading home after a full and engaging experience.
The event ran from Tuesday January 22 until Sunday January 27 and across the period the pilgrims immersed themselves in Panamanian culture and experienced the universal Catholic Church alongside pilgrims from around the world.
Some of the key elements and experiences of the pilgrimage, as documented by Luke Donnelly, Fr Adrian Chan and others, included:
January 21: Getting there was half the fun. After flying to Houston, then Mexico City, the Guadaloupe, the pilgrims set foot on Panamanian soil and started the day with Mass in a small church.
January 22: Pilgrims from around Australia came together at the Australian Gathering in Panama this morning. Following the opening service, pilgrims experienced catechesis with Archbishop Christopher Prowse. Archbishop Christopher urged the pilgrims to be Catholic in two ways, vertical and horizontal. Vertical Catholics dare to say yes, as Mary did. They give themselves to the will of God. His Grace also urged the pilgrims to be horizontal Catholics who work to Become, Belong and Be.
January 23: The pilgrims finished their second day in Panama with two highlights. (1) Celebrating Mass at the catechesis site with Fr. Namora Anderson at the altar and distributing communion; and (2) Being just in time to see Pope Francis and his motorcade pass the hotel on his arrival to Panama. They also had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at the hotel relaxing in our rooms, catching up on washing and in reflection taking in all the experiences we have had to this point.
January 24: Following catechesis the Pilgrims and His Grace walked to Omar Park for the vocations fair, garden of reconciliation and music. The confessionals were a beautiful image lining the hill. The park had a sense of peace. At night they experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity, coming so close to Pope Francis. They opted for a shady patch with an ocean breeze for the Welcome of the Pope Ceremony.
January 25: The pilgrims had a slower day, opting to have catechesis and mass as a group in the hotel. His Grace listened to each of them share reflections and then provided a summary of what he had heard in line with their catechism. Following this, Fr. Adrian celebrated Mass for them in the meeting room of the hotel. The intimacy of this session provided a special time to come together, reconcile with their thoughts and become closer as a group. The evening was spent at the Way of the Cross where they experienced the stations of the cross with the Pope.
January 26: The pilgrims embarked on the long walk to the site of the Vigil before the Final Mass. The Pan Americas Highway was closed for the pilgrimage. After 9 hours the pilgrims were securely in their seated area before the lengthy vigil.
January 27: After braving the night on the ground with up 750,000 other pilgrims, the Canberra-Goulburn pilgrims saw the sun rise on the final day, ahead of the final Mass of the World Youth Day event. Then it was time for the 8km trek back to their motel in 32 degree heat, followed by a squashy bus ride. Then showers, swims in the pool, naps and some food.
- Please note, the dates given as titles for the individual blogs were using Australian time, a day ahead of the date in Panama.