The afternoon commenced with a beautiful formation session led by our pilgrimage chaplain, Fr Greg Barker. Each pilgrim spent some time answering a number of questions relating to the WYD Pilgrimage. What are you most looking forward to, what will you bring to the group, what do you hope to bring back from the experience and what would you ask Pope Francis if you had the chance were just some of the questions pilgrims were asked to contemplate.
After answering the questions, Fr Greg led us in prayer, utilising Pope Francis’ Misericordiae Vultus, his letter introducing the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, as well as the Stations of the Cross and scripture readings. Between each quote, station and gospel reading, pilgrims discussed their answer to one of the questions with someone they hadn’t met before, which was a great way to reflect and get to know a fellow pilgrim.
Fr Greg encouraged pilgrims to contemplate the Pope’s words on mercy and note down any that stood out to us so that we could carry those words with us on the journey. He noted that a pilgrimage is “meant to transform us” and given that “life itself is a pilgrimage” this experience is sure to change each of us.
As Pope Francis wrote in Misericordiae Vultus:
The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us. (n14)
Bishop Bill Wright, who will be a WYD pilgrim himself, spoke to the group and shared a little of what he is looking forward to about the pilgrimage, as well as sharing memories of his first experience of WYD in Sydney.
“You just get to see first-hand the variety of the Church in all its glory and a sense of unity in difference. I am looking forward to the renewal of the sense of my Catholicity and the diversity of our Church, which is built on our attachment to Jesus, who was always with people in all their differences,” Bishop Bill said.
Bishop Bill also encouraged pilgrims to read Pope Francis’ writings, which he personally “loves” and predicted that being a part of our pilgrimage group would be “fun” and we would develop a sense of “family” with each other.
The last part of the formation session included practical information about the pilgrimage led by Diocesan WYD Co-ordinators, Brian and Sue Lacey, as well as committee members, Bernadette Gibson, James Elliott and Maryanne Hacker.
Please pray for us as we pilgrims continue to prepare for World Youth Day in Krakow.