On Sunday, the seventy-one pilgrims from our diocese who will leave in just over a week to follow in the footsteps of the saints and take part in World Youth Day, were blessed and sent forth from Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Brian Lacey, who along with his wife, Susan Lacey, is co-ordinating the pilgrimage, is confident that our own pilgrims will be transformed by this experience and will return renewed in their faith.
“We are being sent forth to be part of the global Church and to bring the many blessings we encounter back home to share with the rest of our diocesan community,” said Brian.
Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries, Teresa Brierley, echoed these sentiments when she spoke to the pilgrims on Sunday.
“A pilgrimage is a faith journey. You are being sent as disciples to follow the way of Jesus. I believe that the Holy Spirit will be knocking at your door and when you return you will be different, and as a result so will your family, friends, parishes, schools and the diocesan community,” said Teresa.
Teresa acknowledged the challenges pilgrims will face – physical, emotional, psychological and social − but urged those gathered to respectfully enjoy the experience and each other’s company.
The gospel for the Sunday Mass could not have been more appropriate.
The Lord appointed seventy-two…and sent them out ahead of him….Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals….Whatever house you go into, let your first words be ‘Peace to this house!’…Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you.’….do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’
Pilgrim chaplain Fr Greg Barker of Forster Tuncurry Parish, preaching at Sacred Heart Cathedral, reminded the congregation that in our church there are layers of ministry, and this gospel is about the priesthood of all the baptised. While our pilgrims may well carry a purse, a haversack (read backpack) and sandals, the important thing is that they bear nothing that distracts them from the mission task at hand. “You’ve got a mission: proclaiming the Word.
“It’s about our vocation to be followers of Christ. There will be difficulties, but we’re big picture people. We get to hear the Word. We get to be fed at the table. We get to go out, and we get to come back. We get to hear the Word…”
Fr Greg quoted Mahatma Gandhi, who after a brief foray towards Christianity, wrote, “The waters of baptism would be a lot more attractive if more Christians lived the gospel.”
Each pilgrim was presented with a small olive wood cross before being blessed and sent forth.
Our pilgrims are being supported, practically and in prayer, to go out and live the gospel in each of the places they visit.
Please keep our pilgrims in your prayers.