WYD: a movement for justice and the common good

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  • July 22, 2008

SYDNEY, Australia - As I got up this morning, I realized that not only was I leaving tomorrow but I hadn't started packing. Earlier this week, I happened to tear a fairly big hole in my suitcase which had me debating whether or not to buy a new one. I thought I would be in trouble, but with the help of a luggage strap and duct tape, I should be fine for the flight.

This morning, our group made its way to the Tobruk Sheep Station, about an hour outside of downtown Sydney. We were given the chance to hold a whip and participate in a sheep sheering demonstration. These workshops were followed by a "Christmas in July" themed lunch in the main dining hall.

Afterwards, Toronto pilgrims stopped by a Koala park near the city where we were able to take pictures with a koala and view other native and international species.

Our day got even busier after we arrived back at our hostel. Our pilgrimage was officially brought to a close as Toronto pilgrims joined together for Mass on the hostel's rooftop.

Fr. Edwin Gonsalves, who celebrated Mass, gave me a lot to think about in his homily. He spoke about our experiences during the pilgrimage and how we can strive for the common good upon our return home.

"We have just come down from the highest point on the mountain top. How can we live a better Christian life as witnesses to the Holy Spirit?" Fr. Gonsalves said.

"What will we do with our experiences once we return to our family and parish life?"

The Mass was followed by dinner, where we celebrated our joys over the past two weeks. In a toast, Fr. Gonsalves thanked the facilitators, archdiocesan media representatives and officials from the Tour Design company who made the trip that more special. On a sad note, it was Fr. Gonsalves' last official day as Director for the Office of Catholic Youth. He will return to parish ministry effective August 20.

While looking through my Bible, I came across one passage that summarizes my pilgrimage: 1 John 3:18.

"It isn't just about words but something real and active." I've discovered that WYD isn't just a large international youth gathering but a movement within the church that strives for justice and the common good in our society. Once returning home, I'm ready more than ever to pull up my sleeves and get to work and take positive action within my parish and local community.

My pilgrimage down under has done so much good for me. I'm honoured and overjoyed to have taken part in WYD. I feel so attached to Sydney that I've contemplated declaring refugee status on many occasions. I know that this won't be the first and only time here. I plan to come back sometime soon.

As for the next WYD? I have it all planned out, although it's three years away. Hope you've enjoyed my random musings over the last 13 days. God bless.

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