Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welcoming the Pope

This afternoon, one of the key moments in the celebration of World Youth Day finally came to pass. More than 150,000 youth gathered in Sydney have been looking forward to welcoming the Holy Father who is here to share some moments of prayer with us.

The Papal Welcoming ceremony took place this afternoon on Sydney Harbour as Benedict XVI participated in a boat-er-cade including 13 ships which travelled through the harbour to the cheers of youth who lined the seaside in the Botanic Gardens, at the Sydney Opera House, along Circular Quay and at Barangaroo in Darling Harbour. Disembarking at Barangaroo, the pope a moment to greet the youth who were gathered there to welcome him to Sydney.

Once the official greetings had been spoken, he then boarded the Pope-mobile for the motorcade ride through the downtown business district of Sydney. The motorcade travelled through the streets of downtown Sydney to the cheers of pilgrims and Sydneysiders alike. After winding its way through the Botanic Gardens and the Domain, the popemobile made its way to Saint Mary's Cathedral where the pope will spend the evening.

The meeting with the WYD pilgrims was a perfect end to a busy day of activities for the Holy Father. He visited today with the Governor General of Australia where he exchanged greetings before signing the official guest book, and then paid a short visit to the tomb of Blessed Mary MacKillop located in North Sydney before making his way to the harbour to join the boat-er-cade.

In the end, the papal motorcade raced through the streets of downtown Sydney because of time restrictions and because of the high level of security that is being afforded the Head of State from the Vatican. Many spectators who had waited for up to four hours to catch a glimpse of the pope got just that - a passing glimpse.

Tomorrow, the pope will meet with representatives of other christian religions and with representatives of other religions before reciting a prayer at the beginning of the Stations of the Cross at 3:00 pm tomorrow. Tomorrow evening, he is scheduled to meet with a group of disadvantaged youth in the church of the Sacred Heart (Sydney). In the meanwhile, untold miracles continue to occur among the pilgrims who are gathered here. Only in time will some of these conversion expereinces come to light.