ON August 4 I will join around 80 absolutely pumped Queenslanders in boarding a plane bound for World Youth Day, embarking on a pilgrimage that for most, will be the journey of a lifetime.
For many of us, it’s been a long lead up to the event but the preparation, anticipation and excitement will all form part of the total experience.
I, like many others, have spent the last couple of weeks in a hurried frenzy, buying last minute things and compiling list after list, as well as trying to make sure I’m up to date in my day job, or study as is the case for many pilgrims.
The thought of packing has been a bit daunting and I’ve managed to put it off for the most part, but it’s crunch time now.
Unlike myself, I’ve heard that some people have been packed for the last month!
There’s a fair bit we need to take, but a few of the travel items I consider essential include our green and gold World Youth Day pilgrim thongs, other Australiana items to swap with international pilgrims, my new digital camera and a phone card for calling home.
Talking to other pilgrims from Townsville and around the state I know that everyone is well and truly ready to go.
For the most part all our fundraising efforts are finished and special commissioning Masses have been held for pilgrims in various parts of Queensland.
In Townsville, the support we have received from our individual parishes and diocesan community has been unreal and we are so appreciative.
For some, the trip would not have been possible without this support.
We have 11 people from Townsville attending World Youth Day, which is the most we’ve ever had from this diocese.
The fact Bishop Michael Putney is joining us makes it all the more special.
Prior to World Youth Day celebrations in Germany, we will spend the first two weeks immersed in Mediterranean culture journeying the pathways of St Paul through Turkey and Greece.
We will visit places such as Ephesus and Corinth where Paul evangelised communities some 2000 years ago.
No doubt another spectacular highlight of this part of our trip will be our time at Gallipoli and Anzac Cove, and let’s not forget the Greek islands cruise.
On arriving in Cologne we will be met by a further 40 Queenslanders, 2000 Australians and hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world as we join together to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Benedict XVI.
On returning I’m sure there will be highlights that stand out, but having not been to Europe before I am just excited about the thought of discovering and experiencing all these amazing destinations for the first time.
I feel privileged to have this opportunity, especially when I consider the fact that four Queensland bishops and three priests are joining us on our pilgrimage.
Above all, the thing I am looking forward to most is getting to know some great people who share an important common bond — our faith in Jesus Christ.
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