Day 3 of World Youth Day pilgrimage

Today marked the start of the Days in the Dioceses programme held in all the dioceses in Australia and New Zealand. The link given above is for DID08 in Melbourne.

There was no fixed programme for us today, so we were all free to go and do whatever we liked. There was an Official Welcome Liturgy celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but these were by ticket only. Since we did not have a ticket, we did not attend it. But we did pass by it on our way to the Australian Catholic University, where I was going to attend a talk titled “Called To Holiness” given by the Catherine of Siena Institute.

The content of the talk was very similar to what I have in mind for my next book “You Can Change The World”, which I will be working on after I get back from World Youth Day. The book is about discovering our God-given gifts and by using them, participate in God’s plan to change the world, which is God’s plan for us, so at the same time, we will have a more fulfilling life. I will write more on this later on, when the book is ready.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is beautiful! Many of the churches in Australia are built in a gothic style, so they are really nice to take photos of. Again, I can’t show you the photos, because the computer I’m using doesn’t allow it.

There wasn’t any other talk today that interested me, so together with a small group of three others, we walked around the city of Melbourne. What was truly interesting was being able to walk in a foreign city and meet foreign groups of people with whom we cannot communicate by words since we speak different languages, but can still connect at a deeper level. It’s really amusing to meet this group of people and one of them shouts, “Germany!” and then another group shouts, “Zambia!”

What we have in common is this: we are all Catholic youths who have come to Australia for World Youth Day. There’s that sense of solidarity that I’ve been looking forward to experience. It’s too bad we weren’t in a bigger group and carrying our Singapore flag. Then we could wave our flag and shout back, “Singapore!” The Americans would probably ask us, “Is that near China?”

In the evening, we visited Federation Square, where the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was holding a concert. The Vinnies, as they are called here, are much more active than they are in Singapore, and much more public too. In fact, the city of Melbourne has a very strong Catholic presence, with many churches and Catholic buildings around, like a St. Vincent’s hospital and an Australian Catholic University right next to the CBD. The university kind of reminds me of our Singapore Management University, with lecture theatres located in neighbouring buildings.

Our last surprise for the day came as we were making our way back home from the city by train. The four of us were so tired that we just sat on the train and stoned all the way back. When it came to our stop, we got up and waited for the doors to open… only they didn’t. We looked around and saw that in the neighbouring carriage, a door was open, so we rushed over only to reach it as the door closed, and the train moved off! We later learnt that while the doors automatically close, they have to be opened manually!

So we got off at the next station, and had to go outside the station to cross the underpass to get to the platform. As we were crossing it, the train came and we rushed for it… only to reach it as the doors closed. This was getting to be a sickening habit. We had to wait about half an hour before the next train came.

When I get back to Singapore, I’m never complaining about the MRT again.

Tomorrow, we have been invited by the youth group of the parish of Our Lady Help of Christians to attend their youth rally, after which, we will join 55,000 other Catholic youths at the Telstra Dome to celebrate the Commissioning Mass. I hope we don’t miss our train again… The stations are not underground (not most of them anyway) and we stand at the mercy of the freezing winds here. Tomorrow’s weather forecast predicts “strong to gale-force winds”. According to the newspaper I picked up today, Sydney’s days are slightly warmer, but the nights there are colder. I re-eally need to get a scarf soon…

That’s all for today!

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