Sunday, 9 December 2007

Wollongong Diocese hosts the Cross and Icon 8-9 December 2007

“The WYD Cross and Icon made a short visit to Wollongong on the 8th and 9h December 2007. We started our journey with a pilgrimage along the northern beaches towards the Cathedral where we celebrated Mass. To share a Mass with the Cross and Icon is something that is really special as the universal symbol for Jesus' love is shared with all the youth of the universal Church. After brainstorming ideas for 2008 through workshops, the Cross and Icon returned to the Cathedral in Wollongong for an all night vigil. A number of groups were in charge of an hour throughout the night. The youth of the Cathedral was rostered on for 3-4am but I stayed from the start with music from Taize to the early morning rosary with the Legion of Mary. I felt at peace being not only in the presence of the Cross and Icon but also the people who came to visit. Sitting there all night, I found myself not only praying with the Cross in front of me, but watching how others related to the Cross across all age spans. I noticed that even though some people went along with their normal prayers, they were still so happy to be in the presence of the Cross and others found it quite hard to let go of the wood that has travelled so far.

I learnt many things about the spirit of WYD in that one night, how it has changed me and how much it impacts on all the people whose faces lit up when they walked in the doors of the church. I learnt that its the people who make up the universal Catholic Church in which we are all swept up in the love of Christ. This was proven to me on the night when i experienced so many different types of prayer, I sat through an hour of prayer in a language that i did not know one word but still found peace, love and Jesus at the centre- which is part of the WYD spirit. I know that the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon me that night, thanks to the many people who walked in and out of that church with their own sense of prayer and devotion to Jesus Christ.”

Kass Hobbs (Wollongong)

“I never realised how much World Youth Day was going to mean to me until I started getting involved with the JCI Choir in Wollongong. About a year ago I watched the video showing the Journey of the Cross and Icon all over the world at a conference at Mt. Carmel in the Southern Highlands. I remember getting shivers down my spine when I watched how people’s lives have changed by just seeing and touching the cross. I then had the chance then to carry a replica of the cross with my classmates around the school grounds. That enough was the motivation I needed to help all I could to see that this Cross could touch as many people in Wollongong as possible.

When the day arrived when the Cross first came here to Wollongong, and the Cross entered into the hall, there was just a hush over the whole crowd there. I then was able to sing later that night in the choir. In the choir i had the chance to meet people my age from many schools who had the same talents and interests as me, and it was a great experience to meet some new friends. Alongside that, we got to sing some really good hymns that were essentially youthful. It was a beautiful and probably a once in a lifetime experience for me, although I wish to continue singing and helping out when the Cross comes back to Wollongong, and to my parish and school, later this year”.

Ben Fernandez (Gwynneville) aged 16

Being part of the WYD cross and Icon journey in Wollongong was an awesome experience. Seeing these symbols carried along the beach and then holding the cross upright for the world to see at the Wollongong harbour ceremony were two striking moments where I felt God was being brought into the heart of our community, a witness to our Catholic faith and our belief in Jesus. The beautiful mass celebrated by Bishop Ingham and the all night Eucharistic vigil, both of which I was privileged to be involved in, provided prayerful settings to spend time contemplating the deeper significance of what the cross and icon represent and what they draw us to. I can’t wait for their return and for WYD 08, opportunities to be GOD’S witnesses in a world that needs him so much…..

Brendan Mills, Wollongong

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