Friday, 25 July 2008

End of WYD, just a beginning

What to do after such an amazing experience as WYD?! Well in true SPES fashion, we are on retreat. While Sydney cleans up from the 400,000 pilgrims who spent Saturday night and Sunday at Randwick Racecourse, our group from the UK made our way to the Marian Valley just outside Brisbane to find an atmosphere of rest and reflection. Guided by Fr. Jordan, we were given an introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The silence and peace of this place are awe-inspiring. Just walking a few hundred meters down towards the most beautiful bit of rainforest, we see shrines dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, Our Lady of Guadeloupe, St. Joseph, Our Lady of Fatima, and many more before coming finally to Our Lady of the Southern Cross. A huge thank you goes out to the Community of St. Paul the First Hermit, who look after this retreat centre. Their hospitality has been amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever forget our first walk-up-call - Fr. Columba playing ‘Waltzing Matilda’ on the bagpipes.

Here are some photos from the final days of WYD. Seeing our Holy Father was such an incredible blessing for us all. Just to see how he has united the youth of the world sends a message that hopefully more and more people will take notice of. One thing we did hear echoed in the Sydney news was how joyful and peaceful the atmosphere was with so many people flooding into their city. They were amazed that there was no crime, no unruly protests and despite worries, the transportation system held up. We, however, were not surprised. When Jesus is at the heart of any celebration, blessings and graces flow in abundance, and we witnessed that in Sydney. We pray for Australia and have faith that the Spirit will continue to move and inspire the people there.

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