Tuen's Blog

Infrequent diary of a procrastinator

World Youth Day

Written By: Tuen - Aug• 05•08

For the last few months, I had been busy preparing and attending events relating to World Youth day 2008 in Sydney.  I was on the main support committee for the Pallottine Youth Encounter which took place at Milgrove, as well as for organising our youth to attend the main event at Sydney.  I had been in charge of registrations, accommodation and other stuff, and the amount of work that had to be put in during the last 2 months was surprisingly huge.  Had I known I was going to get myself so bogged down with the work and responsibilities, I might have tried to evade this committee earlier on; but Fr. Pat Jackson, our parish priest and inspiration for our youth encounter, has a way of getting people to do what needs to be done!

Anyway, the Pallottine Youth Encounter at Milgrove was a stay-in encounter for youth, and we had participants from Canada, USA, Belize, India, South Africa, Brazil, and a few other countries.  The Milgrove encounter was from 4th July to 9th July and most of the participants found the encounter to be very beneficial, in terms of spiritual renewal and community building.  We had a very large number of priests, and it was refreshing to see a mass con-celebrated by 7 or 9 priests.  My 4 older kids attended the Milgrove encounter, and I was there most of the time as well.

After Milgrove, the participants were then provided with home-stay with hosts from our parish church.  And for the next few days, we attended some organised church activities as well as activities of the Melbourne days in the diocese, in preparation for WYD in Sydney. 

The group then travelled up to Sydney by bus and was there from 14th July to 21st July.  Tony and I drove up in a car, as we needed the car to run various errands whilst in Sydney.  We had some last minute accommodation and transport hiccups, but thankfully all problems were solved smoothly and on time.  Tony and I had a chance to spend a few nights at my cousin, Daniel’s home.  The rest of the time, we spent it in classrooms with the rest of the youth, at St. Patrick’s primary school at Sutherland.

I have very mixed feelings about this whole project.  I had attended the WYD as a support person, rather than as a pilgrim, so I was not exactly in the pilgrim frame of mind.  Nevertheless, the events of Milgrove and WYD touched me in a special way.  It was quite amazing to see half a million people gathered together to attend mass celebrated by our spiritual leader, the Pope.  With that many youths gathered in one place, you would have expected chaos, rowdiness and nonsense; yet everyone was relatively well-behaved and a proper sense of reverence pervaded all the events.  Can you imagine half a million silent worshippers gathered at one place?  Quite incredible and moving.

The other experience I had was how things seemed to just fall in place, despite my concerns and worries over problems etc.  Don’t get me wrong; I did have to scramble and take action to solve the problems, but the results were always good.  It was as if the Spirit was guiding and taking control of all the things that had to be done.  Yes, you might say it’s coincidence, but so what?  For those who have faith, coincidences are planned by the Spirit, and when you have many coincidences in a row, you can’t help but feel the Spirit moving. 

Having said all the above, I don’t think I want the same role for any future World Youth Days.  My kids are looking forward to the next one in Madrid, but I hope that if I do attend in future, it will be as a pilgrim/tourist, without any responsibilities for any youths except my own kids!

Some photos can be found here:



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