By Jen Bakken
“Good Day from Delano, Minnesota” was a beautiful conversation- starter for a group from the Delano Catholic Community while visiting Australia in July.
Delano Catholic Community youth director, Ellen Bauman and four young adults Joey Jackson, Alicia Pearson, Morhia Moore and Samantha Drusch, recently traveled to Sydney, Australia for World Youth Day (WYD).
This is the first time the church has participated in this global event and, after fundraising, they teamed up with students and adult leaders from other parishes to share in this memorable celebration.
“It was difficult to travel to,” admitted Bauman, noting the flight and time zone changes.
The annual event was established by Pope John Paul II in 1986, to bring together young Catholics from around the globe to celebrate and learn about their faith.
WYD is a pilgrimage of faith, where young people from diverse backgrounds meet and experience the love of God. The first WYD was in Rome on Palm Sunday, and each year since it has been celebrated at a diocesan level on Palm Sunday.
Every two or three years, it is celebrated at an international host city with a week of events attended by the Pope and hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. The week concludes in a final Mass celebrated by the Pope.
“The pivotal end was a candlelight vigil,” explained Bauman. “Everyone walked seven miles and slept outside. There was adoration, prayer, music, testimonials, and a final Mass with the Holy Father in the morning.”
While there, they didn’t witness any crime, and Bauman attributes this to be a picture of unity that a large group can be together without any problems. She noted the city’s newspaper reported after the event that, despite there being more than 200,000 additional people in the city, there was no additonal crime concerns.
Through the sea of people waving flags from all over the world, many things stood out to Bauman and the others.
“You realized you were all brothers and sisters,” she said. “We were all there for the same reason to participate in universal church.”
After the WYD events were done, the group spent four days in New Zealand with host families. Bauman felt blessed to be able to show this group from Delano how much more is really out in the world.
The group felt as though they brought their community with them, along with specific prayers from the Delano Catholic Community. For them, this wasn’t a trip for five, but a trip for their church and community as a whole.
“I could never have predicted how fulfilled I felt,” said Alicia Pearson. “The mystery was revealed. It all became more real and it really helped my faith.”
The next WYD will take place in Madrid, Spain in August 2011. For more information about WYD, visit www.wyd2008.org.