CAMPUS minister of Siena College on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, Donna McDade is leading the local pilgrimage to WYD08 with her father, who is a deacon.
Deacon Peter McDade will help lead the pilgrimage group, with Donna saying “he’s my father but he’s also an excellent pastor and spiritual guide”.
“We’re a good team – he takes care of the spiritual and pastoral dimension and I look after the organisational – and we fill in the gaps for each other.”
Donna’s Mum, Tricia, is part of the Grovely parish team co-ordinating 203 visitors as part of BrizStay while cousin Liz Palmer, campus minister of St Columban’s, Caboolture, is also leading a pilgrimage group.
Siena College has combined its tally of 68 pilgrims with sister school St Thomas’ in Lautoka, Fiji, taking their group total to 115.
Siena students enjoyed a “mini-World Youth Day” in May, as a “practise day for the pilgrimage to Sydney”.
“We practised several elements of the World Youth Day pilgrimage including catechesis, functioning as small groups, developing our sense of community and responsibility to the community and of course our big walk … (like the one) from North Sydney train station to Randwick Racecourse on Saturday, July 19.”
Donna said the fruits of the May gathering were evident, with the group “fired up” and its “joy so real and so deep”.
“The day was about enjoying each other’s company and getting our heads, hearts and feet ‘in the zone’ for the amazing adventure we’re about to embark on,” Donna said.
Expressing excitement about the link to their Fijian friends, Donna said their World Youth Day “hope” was to raise awareness of self, others and God.
“I hope for us to become ever more aware of who we are, where we’re from and how closely we depend on God, our families, our land and our community for our sense of purpose and happiness,” Donna said.
“I hope that in deepening this identity, young and old people also then have the eyes to see how to bring goodness, gratitude, creativity, kindness, hospitality, generosity and all sorts of specific skills to the earth.”
Siena student and pilgrim Stephanie Scholes, 16, said the group’s mini-World Youth Day event was “moving”.
With “more than half” of her friends also heading to Sydney, Stephanie said she’s looking froward to the experience.
“If I can have half as much joy and happiness (as) I had in Brisbane, I know it would be a worthwhile experience.”
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