Day 16 – General Audience with our Holy Father

Praised be Jesus Christ! Today our Holy Father left Australia to head home for Rome. We had the tremendous gift of attending a general audience with him this morning (it was for all volunteers and staff – all 8,000+ of us). SGH and I left the college early in hopes of getting there before the bulk of the crowd. Our efforts were duly rewarded. And even in this, the good Lord watched over us. We missed a bus and got a bit turned around as to which direction we were supposed to go which happened to be providential as another volunteer flagged us down as we were about to turn a corner and gave us a ride to the Domain where the event was held. Otherwise we would not have gotten the spots that we did. We were close enough to see the emblem on his stole – which means we were quite close. I took photos to share with you. What a beautiful pope we have!

I cannot begin to tell you what it was like to be so close to Peter (meaning PBXVI). To pray with him, to be blessed by him, to be with him. And just so you know…all the blessings we received from him this week were received for all of you. Please God, may it bear fruit.

After our morning audience SGH and I headed back to St. Mary’s Cathedral as we were on duty. Both of us were manning different stations connected to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati – Sister by his relics, and I passing out booklets on him in the front section. We were probably busier today than most other days, praise God! We also had an opportunity to meet his niece who was actually leaving Australia today to return home to Turin. A blessing. The days have been quite full and sometimes long – and though our time here has been abundantly grace-filled, I do look forward to returning home.

Sisters, the following send their greetings: Fr. Bob Lombardo, Fr. James Adams, Fr. John Montejano, and I know there are many more but my mind draws a blank.

We miss Pope Benedict but rejoice in the blessings afforded us with his presence. God bless and good night.
Sister Mary Scholastica

Praised be Jesus Christ! Happy Belated Feastday, Sister Maria Elia! I am sorry we did not greet you on your day… actually, your day for us was a day early for you…anyways, I prayed for you and hope your day was filled with every blessing from our Lord!

A quick reflection about the closing Mass at Randwick Racetrack…

I do not know how many priests con-celebrated, but there were many. We had met many throughout the week who were having difficulty getting accredited in order to participate in the Mass. This means that they needed to go through a screening process, and for whatever reason there were many difficulties for many priests. We assured them all of our prayers. Today, the day after the closing Mass, we providentially saw two of these priests and they said their accreditation came through at the last minute – many more priests said the same thing. I asked a priest I met today at the cathedral how he felt to be so close to the Holy Father and to con-celebrate Mass with him. His response was that it was the best experience of his life so far, he said it was an honor and gave him new energy to go back home. Another priest told me that the sacrifice of having to wait to the last minute – the ‘not knowing for sure’ – was difficult for him, but that he realized our Lord was asking this sacrifice of him for graces that were needed this week. As I spoke with them, I thought: Men of faith and prayer – men willing to be molded and led by the Holy Spirit. How much we need to pray for our priests!

As most of you probably saw, the Mass was beautiful. Pope Benedict spoke so eloquently. The young people were really listening. The opportunity to to be in the same place with our Holy Father has been such a gift. I know Sister and I keep saying this, but when you are near him there is an undeniable grace.

This morning there was a special meeting with the Holy Father for all the volunteers. We were a part of the volunteer work force! We woke up very early and tried to get to the place of “Meeting” before the other 8000 volunteers showed up. Well, we were about the 1001st and 1002nd volunteers to beat every one else to the front lines 🙂 We actually found a very good spot very close, as you will see from the pictures Sister took. She was able to get some great pictures of our Holy Father. To be soooo close to him that you could actually see his smile and his reactions as people spoke, this was very special. It felt a little lonely when he left the stage, knowing that he was on his way to the airport. How deeply bonded we are in the Mystical Body of Christ.

On our bus ride back to the college after working at the cathedral a young woman thanked us for being here and shared how joyful our presence made Sydney. She was speaking of all the pilgrims and the WYD events. She did not participate in the WYD, but her sincerity and genuine gratitude was resonant of so many, many other Austalians and Sydneysiders (as those who live in Sydney are called). Today, there was a bittersweet feeling amongst many as the Holy Father returned home. We miss him already.

Have a blessed day. With many prayers for you.
Sister Grace Helena

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 9:23 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Your comment paraphrasing “how wonderful it was to be so close to Peter” recalled for the moment in St Peter’s Square in 2000 when PJPII came close in his Popemobile. I waited for that moment on a rickety chair,hanging onto my husband’s hand to keep from falling. As he passed, I was amazed at what came out of my mouth: “Pappa!” “Pappa!” “Pappa!” What joy to be so close.

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