This morning I traveled to Riverview for a Catechesis (teaching) session along with some young adults from Chicago who are active with Charis Ministries in Chicago—an organization that does retreats for people in their 20s and 30s (BustedHalo Retreats is essentially an affiliate of this organization). Riverview is the site of a Jesuit High School where the Magis Experiment is taking place. The Jesuits decided to gather young adults together from their various provinces and to do a type of retreat pilgrimage the week before World Youth Day. So my travel partners have been here in Sydney a week longer than I have. After a brief catechesis I was able to talk with three very impressive young adults from 3 different countries.
Colin, from Ireland.
Allen from Kenya.
And John from Tanzania. John did a Jesuit Volunteer year in Tanzania and decided to stay for a second year because he had been so moved by the people.
The Pope arrived this afternoon by boat with several pilgrims from all over the world. He looked very much at ease with the young people who chatted with him on the way. Travelling is a bit daunting for the 81 year old pontiff, who admitted as much in his address to the pilgrims at Barangeroo. Two things stood out for the Australians in his talke. He welcomed the Aboriginal people whose land we have been standing on throughout our time here. There has been a lot of discrimination of the Aborigines for many years here, in fact it was only last year that the government here apologized for the oppression inflicted on them in the past.
Secondly, the Pope stressed care for the environment and spoke out against relativism and individualism. Environmental issues have been at the heart of Benedict’s papacy, as well as, a hot topic amongst young people here. In a secular country that values individual experience, Benedict highlighted that experience, while important in our lives, means nothing without reflecting on that experience in the light of truth. Unless we adhere to the universal truths that we have come to believe in, we will always fall short of our ideals. After a short welcoming ceremony he got into the Pope mobile and raced (and I do mean raced) through the city of Sydney through all the sites that pilgrims were eagerly celebrating and awaiting his entrance.
Young Adults from Malawi welcome the Pope and entertain the crowds at The Domain: