By Fr Paul Roberts EV, Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation
On 31 July, exactly as our pilgrims to World Youth Day began the final Mass with Pope Francis in Krakow, 1000 people gathered with Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, to unite in Word and sacrament across the world.
The young adult liturgical band of the parish supported the crowd’s musical worship superbly as Bishop Vincent led the Eucharist and encouraged the pilgrim missionary outreach to which we are all called.
To view a gallery of photos from the evening click here
Overflow seating with heaters and outdoor screens gave a hint of the overnight vigil sleep-out atmosphere of every WYD! And the enormous strumming, singing and bongo energy of the Neocatechumenal Way musicians outside the church after Mass, amidst 45 huge waving international flags, could have fooled anyone that indeed we were present at WYD!
A building feeling of connection to our pilgrims could be felt in the night air, many of whom had met communities in the Philippines on the way to Poland where all of our Parramatta pilgrims were now united with people from across the planet!
Accompanied by that vibrant outdoor music, the crowd at Greystanes moved in waves to the adjoining Camilleri Hall where the specially commissioned in-Sync Big Band completely shook the building with joy and talent to welcome us in for more.
We had catered for 400 with Filipino street food and Polish and Filipino desserts but had to get an urgent truck of pizzas to multiply the loaves!
During the proceedings, a number of video pieces were shown, prepared specially for the in-Sync event by our tech friends travelling with the pilgrims in Poland. These video testimonies supplemented the testimonies of live pilgrims; Polish Fr Piotr Kruk OP, our Western Sydney University chaplain, introduced us to Poland on screen and surprised us as a spirited didgeridoo player; pilgrims from previous WYDs shared the fruits of their experience in their lives since travelling; Bishop Vincent shared of his harrowing and trusting refugee pilgrimage on the sea as he escaped the sad oppression in his homeland Vietnam at age 18; the in-Sync band peppered the night with celebration as well as backing a closing prayer and praise experience; and a live stream from Poland played continuously on one of the three active screens used for the event.
Our committee that worked with the Diocese’s Institute for Mission to organise WYD in-Sync has extended warmest thanks to: Greystanes Parish and its high school, St Pauls, for the welcome, task involvement and great support; our Catholic Education Parramatta IT department for superb technical provision; and the many great people who joined us to provide hospitality, meaning, joy and the hard work of humble jobs!
The timing of Bishop Vincent’s appointment to our Diocese made it impossible for him to attend WYD this time. But if WYD in-Sync becomes a tradition to link our Diocese with the WYD energy in the host city, then the future OS pilgrims of our Diocese and those @home in-Sync might have to battle it out for the Bishop’s company.
Thanks to Bishop Vincent and the many local pilgrims who joined together for the Diocese’s inaugural WYD in-Sync and our warmest welcome home to the pilgrims and their leaders with whom we were deeply united in prayer and friendship.
Posted on 12 August 2016.