Australian pilgrims to World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon, Portugal, came together for the traditional Australian gathering on August 1, just hours prior to the official commencement of WYD.
More than 2,500 pilgrims and bishops gathered at the Parque da Quintas das Conchas to celebrate and share stories of their journey to WYD. The event also featured performances from musicians Gen Bryant, Fr Rob Galea and Simon Hyland.
In closing the gathering, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP commissioned the pilgrims and encouraged them to follow the example of the first Christian pilgrim, Mary, during the “grace-filled week of World Youth Day”.
“This week is an opportunity for you to become a Theotokos, a God-bearer like Mary, open to God and saying ‘yes’ to Him,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“The Church and the world need you to be both God-bearers and God-sharers, in what you say and do. Mary pondered many things in her heart, but then she got out there and did something about it, like her Aussie namesake Mary MacKillop.
“She brought the world to Christ in her prayer and then brought Christ to the world in her action. This week is an opportunity for you to go more than a bit public about your faith and have fun in the process. It will be a chance to resolve how you will share Christ through works of evangelisation, justice and mercy in the future.”
The Archbishop of Sydney concluded his remarks by exhorting the pilgrims to carry forward their experience at WYD in the years ahead upon their return home.
“World Youth Day may inspire you to see the world around you differently and to act differently in it, but when you get home the world will be carrying on as it was before you left,” he said.
“World Youth Day may inspire you to see yourself differently and develop some new aspirations, but when you get home it will be easy just to fall back into your old patterns. So this week you must resolve to find new forms and places of prayer, community and action to sustain the energy you’ve found here.
“By God’s grace you will do great things!”
Images: Neil Helmore
Words: Matthew Biddle