LMU Group Attends World Youth Day in Australia
Every three years, thousands of Catholics embark on a pilgrimage to gather with the pope for World Youth Day. This year’s destination was Sydney, Australia, where more than 400,000 people were present, including 19 from Loyola Marymount University.
Led by Manh Tran, S.J., an advisor in LMU’s Campus Ministry, 14 students and four alumni spent almost three weeks in Sydney last July, participating in World Youth Day events, such as concerts, lectures, film festivals, prayer services, as well as a variety of liturgies.
The LMU group was at the front of the arena for the official arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. “Being surrounded by thousands of people from all around the world, sharing the faith, and waiting for Pope Benedict’s arrival was so surreal,” said Jeanette Gonzalez ’08.
For theology students, the trip was an opportunity to meet and have frank conversations with church leaders. Bishops spoke to small groups each morning and answered questions after the sessions. “The pilgrimage to Australia was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said senior theology major David Romero. “The group prayed with the Holy Father and other leaders of the Catholic Church, and reflected on how the Holy Spirit is ever-present in our lives — never dormant, but always affective.”
After World Youth Day came to a close, the group traveled to Bourke for volunteer service projects at several schools. An aboriginal elder took the group into the outback for personal reflection time and to see aboriginal rock art.
“The community of Bourke was really amazing,” said Rebecca Christian, a third year screenwriting and theology major. “They were so open and so kind to us the entire time we were there. We were even featured on a morning show for the local radio station and in the local newspaper.”
The last portion of the trip was spent in Sydney serving and learning about the city’s homeless population. The group was accommodated by a Vietnamese family that was also hosting pilgrims from Vietnam. The LMU group enjoyed the sights and learned about Vietnamese Catholic culture.
The next World Youth Day will take place during the summer of 2011 in Madrid, Spain. For more information about LMU’s participation, please contact Father Manh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.338.7597.