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Message From The Parish Priest

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My Dear People,

The message this week is from some of those of our parish communities who took part in the World Youth Meeting with the Pope in Sydney. There will be further contributions over the summer.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses." (Acts 1:8)

Our journey to WYD in Sydney began over a year ago with the procession of the WYD Cross from St Edward's to St Kentigern's. We had meetings as a Diocesan group every month, which helped people to bond and learn about the Holy Spirit. It was a very significant number which eventually travelled: 72, the exact same number Christ sent out in pairs to proclaim the Good News (Luke 10:1-2).

Saturday 5 July-Tuesday 8 July (Beach huts, Bulli, Diocese of Wollongong, 60 miles south of Sydney)

After a tiring flight, we arrived late at night, attended Mass and went straight to sleep. The first thing which struck us about Australia was its sheer beauty, as we had mountains on one side and the beach on the other. We realised God's creation is awe-inspiring.

Wednesday 9 July-Monday 14 July: 'Days in the Diocese' (St Michael's Parish, Thirroul, little further north)

Preparation days for actual WYD week. We stayed with families who treated us like one of their own with amazing warmth, generosity and love. They took us to Symbio Wildlife Park, where we fed kangaroos and patted koalas. We learned how to surf on one of their coldest days for years even though it was warm for us, attended a talk at Wollongong Uni about preserving God's creation, and went to an 'Everything Aussie' festival. On the Saturday, we celebrated Mass in Wollongong with 5000 other pilgrims and families and the Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Ingham. On Sunday we watched the local rugby league team, Illawarra Dragons before a ceilidh in the evening. The farewell on Monday morning was very emotional. It was clear that they were sad to see us go and that we had made an impact on each other, and we will keep in touch. Our enthusiasm inspired some of St Michael's youth group to join us for the WYD events and for future WYDs as well.

Tuesday 15 July-Sunday 21 July: WYD (Classroom floors of Sacred Heart School, Mosman, Sydney)

People took in the sights like Sydney Opera House, climbing the Harbour Bridge and going on a ferry. On Tuesday evening the XXIII WYD officially started with a huge Mass with George Cardinal Pell, in Barangaroo. All the pilgrims were crowding the streets, waiting for the Mass. The next 3 mornings we had catechesis on the Holy Spirit with Bishops from the Philippines, Sydney and Westminster, followed by Confessions and Mass. On Wednesday afternoon, we queued for 2 and a half hours to get into St Mary's Cathedral but it was well worth the wait, as there was a beautiful portrait of Our Lady holding the Baby Jesus, by which we received a plenary indulgence. On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI arrived by boat in the harbour. We watched this on the big screen and prayed the rosary, before he drove past us in his Pope-mobile. On Friday, we took part in the Stations of the Cross. We got up at 3am on Saturday for a 10 km walk which started at the Harbour Bridge at 5am. Salford was lucky enough to be at the front so some of us also had the privilege to carry the WYD Cross and Icon of Our Lady, while Fr Flynn led the rosary and talked to the media. We arrived at Randwick racecourse at 8am and were amazed at how close we were to the altar, well worth getting up so early for. We had Morning Prayer and Mass and laid out our sleeping bags for the night ahead of sleeping under the stars in the open. There was an opportunity for Adoration in a tent prepared by the Missionaries of Charity, Blessed Mother Teresa's sisters. The Pope arrived at 7pm for a vigil service. The Holy Father gave a fantastic speech about the Holy Spirit and finished with Benediction. It was another early start on Sunday for Morning Prayer. The Pope arrived by helicopter and the big Papal Mass with 500,000 pilgrims started at 10am. Again, the Pope's sermon about the Holy Spirit was enlightening and 24 people from around the world received the Sacrament of Confirmation. At the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope announced that the next WYD, the 24th, will be hosted by Madrid, Spain, in 2011.

Monday 22 July-Tuesday 23 July: Flight home

On Monday, we had a final Mass with our own Bishop, Terence Brain, who sent us off on our long journey home with his blessing. We arrived back safely in Manchester on Tuesday and we are definitely not the same people who left for Sydney. Although we are getting back into our normal routines, the pilgrimage experience has changed us. We need to reap the fruits and inspire the next generation and our home parishes. The most important thing we have learned is that we can only do this if we are open to the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you all again for giving us this opportunity and you were always in our prayers during this pilgrimage.

Michael Deas and Patrick Murphy

MARGARET DUGGAN's C. D. formal LAUNCHING AT THE Irish Centre, Cheetham Hill with Pat Jordan and Finnigan's Rainbow on August 29th. tickets are 3.50 before and 5 at the door. See Mrs Duggan for a ticket.

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