Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Call me Zaccheus...

It is 7:45AM on Thursday morning here in Sydney, Australia. We are all very excited today as today we get to watch the Pope arrive by boat into Sydney Harbour. We just have a few minutes before we leave for our Catechesis site so I will try to quickly recap yesterday for you and then edit the post when we get home late tonight.

Yesterday morning we headed out from the hotel at about 8:20 AM to make the long trek to St. Thomas (irony anyone?) Catholic Church in Willoughby. It was a much longer trek than any of us leaders thought as we have not yet mastered the bus system. The train system is another story as we have that down pretty well. We walked about 20-30 minutes. That doesn't sound too bad when you are talking about walking in Texas. Sydney's terrain is more like that of San Fransisco and there are quite a few hills. Combine that with the 5-10 miles that we walk everyday and let's just say that it was not the most pleasant start to our day. We finally found our bus and then arrived at the catechesis site a few minutes late.

Our catechesis site is for English speaking pilgrims only. Now we all have enjoyed the international flavor of our week, but it is nice to have everything done in your native language. At least for me, it eliminates a few distractions and allows me to open myself up to God's work in me. There were several Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal leading prayer ministry and praise and worship. Our primary catechist was Archbishop Anthony (last name unknown) from Guam. The Archbishop was a very humble man and asked that we all call him "Father," as he is first and foremost a pastor. He was an excellent speaker and really traced the workings of the Holy Spirit throughout the Old and New Testament. We then celebrated Mass with the Archbishop. After Mass we had lunch which consisted of a Snags (sausage) and onions sandwich and a Lammington ( a tasty chocolate cake-like treat native to Australia). We then boarded buses that took us to downtown Sydney. The Australians have done an amazing job coordinating transportation here.

After arriving in the heart of Sydney, we made our way back to the Sydney Opera House. We were to attend a concert at 3PM but we had about an hour or two to spare before then. We allowed the teens to walk along the harbor and visit the various shops near the Opera House. The weather was spectacular. A few of us took a moment just to sit at a sidewalk cafe and bask in the sun.
Here is a picture of Jordan Burdick entertaining the crowd with one of the living statues:

The concert at the Opera House was not all that impressive (it just wasn't our style of music). The second act was a boys High School choir from Junipero Serra Catholic H.S. in California. They were pretty good but they were difficult to hear. The teens were really exhausted at this point. At one point I looked over and our entire row was asleep. I will post the pic later. As we left the usher jokingly said, "We didn't wake you mates did we?"

I promise you this is not a posed pic!

The teens got together and made the group decision to go back to the hotel for the remainder of the evening and get a good night's rest. This meant that we were not going to Bondi Beach for the concert. Some of you know how disappointing that is to a few of us, but it was a unanimous decision and I think we all needed the rest to prepare for these next few days. Dinner consisted of another bag of hot meat and potato soup. Alicia is a master at acquiring food and usually is able to get us a few extras with her Southern charm. We were able to procure a vegetarian meal which is hard to come by.

When we arrived at the hotel we prayed our Novena and then sang/prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I then shared all of the comments with the kids. They loved hearing from you guys. I really want to encourage you to leave comments. Even if you think we do not know you, we would love to hear from you. After prayer the kids changed clothes and then informed the leadership that they wanted to have a group discussion. We said, "sure," and then quickly realized by the uncomfortable silence that they wanted to do it without us. I was proud of them and glad that they took that initiative.

Well, I am out of time for now. We are off to catechesis, then go to Barangaroo to wait for the Holy Father to arrive. We finish our day with a Life Teen concert including none other than Matt Maher. We are hoping for a time of adoration as well.

On a side note, and to answer a question, the guys made an agreement not to shave on the trip. It is driving me nuts. Thankfully I am blessed with little to no facial hair but the kids certainly have me beat. We will see how much longer the arrangement lasts.

Until next time, call us Zaccheus as we will be climbing trees, sitting on shoulders, or doing whatever we have to in order to catch a glimpse of the Vicar of Christ!

So thi picture was actually taken at the Papal arrival but I had to place it in this blog. I am no prophet but we sure did climb whatever we could to see the Holy Father. You can also see our Texas Flag. The stories about that will make up a blog of their own at a later date.

Pax Tecum,


Angie Solcher said...

Wonderful and goose bumps are the words I keep using when I talk to friends around town who are keeping up with you guys on the blog! Tom, you are winning awards for your excellent commentary on the events of the day! We watched the opening Mass and I can't believe you guys are actually there celebrating! Amazing!
Katie dear~ I am worried you don't have enough might catch a fleece? (before Sat night)
Peace,Love,Mom and Dad

Ralph and Paula Day said...

Hope that you get a get view of Pope Benedict. I did not see it, but apparently the group was on Channel 3 news the other day. I have had several people comment on it. Keep the blogs coming. The next few days should be amazing. Let the Lord continue to work in your hearts.

Ralph & Paula Day

Angie Solcher said... impressed got your postcard today from Brisbane!

Martinez Family said...

As we watched the opening mass last night we were in awe. We could see how the Holy Spirit is working in the youth of the World and YOU ARE THERE!!!! We are so excited about these next few days and the experiences you will have. Our thoughts and prayers are with you!! We will be watching for you on EWTN! SMILE!!!

Therese - love the "I love Jesus" beanie. There is plenty of money in your account if you need it!

ZeldaWisdom said...

Dear Teens, I am so proud of you all and your active envolvement in expanding and strengthening your Catholic faith. As you get a bit older and into college (I know, I sound like an old lady!), this experience will definitely stay with you and guide you through difficult times! K Day, we (and the pups) miss you lots!
Love, Emily