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.
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!