God's MAJESTY, fully evident....One of our first views of the Australian Gold Coast....
Steve represented the Americans at a Lamington (Aussie chocolate sponge cake) Eating Contest. He did us proud as he ate 4 Lamingtons in under three minutes, beating out 9 other countries! GO USA!!! :)
Here is the entire Fordham group (from l to r: TOP - Michael, Steve, Kristina, Diana, Joe SJ, Ethan, Vince SJ BOTTOM - Katy, Roxanne, Jason, Pat, and Dave) as we finished our MAGiS experiments and got ready to head back to Sydney for the Ignatian Gathering and WYD Week.
Michael and Ethan help carry the World Youth Day Cross as it arrives at St. Ignatius College, Riverview. At one point, almost every Fordham pilgrim was carrying the cross together....what a powerful moment! Here I am at around midnight trying to finish making our Fordham group banner. Since we forgot to bring our own banner from school, we decided to use a little bit of our ingenuity to make our own! Using two long pieces of canvas cloth that we found and sewed together, and some acrylic paint, we were able to finish our banner and show a bit of our Fordham Pride!This is the inside of the St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. Quite beautiful, isn't it?
Diana, Ethan, Pat, and Roxanne wearing our "I Love NY" t-shirts and carrying our completed Fordham WYD banner. We were on our way to Barangaroo for the WYD Opening Mass.
The WYD Opening Mass at Barangaroo with George Cardinal Pell presiding. We were seated about a half mile away from the altar, but luckily, my camera had some amazing zoom! :)
Everyone and everything (even the clouds!) converged at Barangaroo for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI....
The group, setting up camp at Randwick for our Vigil Sleep-Out and Closing Mass ceremonines.Dawn breaks over all of the sleeping pilgrims at Randwick Racecourse....
....And the sunrise heralds another beautiful grace-filled day from God.
Pope Benedict celebrated a beautiful WYD Closing Mass and announced to the world that the 2011 World Youth Day will take place in Madrid, Spain!
Personally, my favorite message from the Pope's closing remarks was when he said: "What constitutes our faith is not primarily what we DO, but what we RECEIVE." I have received so much from this pilgrimage that it is so difficult to sit here now and try to relay what I am feeling and thinking. All I can say is that I am so very thankful to our leaders (Vince, Joe, and Pat) for guiding us so well on this journey, both physically and spiriually.
I am thankful for all of my group-mates and friends who have helped me to grow and mature so much on this pilgrimage. Thank you all for opening your hearts to me and for sharing your faith with me. It was so very easy to see and experience God everyday in each and every one of your beings.
Thanks to our families and friends back home for your constant support, thoughts, and prayers. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to receive so many of the graces we have experienced here in Australia, so thank you ever so much!
And finally, the greatest thanks are raised up to the Lord, through whom all things are possible. The greatest gift we could ever receive is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and God has so graciously and willingly given His Spirit to us. Thank you, Lord, for your constant presence in our lives, and for your unyielding devotion to our well-beings. I hope that we may take all that we have learned and experienced during this pilgrimage and make it a part of our everyday lives, even through all of the difficulties, struggles, and stresses of the secular world. May the power and strength of the Holy Spirit make us true witnesses of Your Word in all aspects of our humanities, especially as we return to our hometowns and to the larger Fordham community. I ask only that You may grant us the grace to always do Your will and to trust in the guiding power of Your Spirit all the days of our lives. Praise and Reverence to You Always...Amen.