Testimonies to the Glory of God: World Youth Day Pilgrimage AD2000 edited by Helen Hedigan (Buxton Printers, Melbourne, 2000, 122pp, RRP $10.00. Available from Catholic Youth Ministry, Melbourne Archdiocese, (03) 9926 5677)
In August last year, 400 young Melburnians set out for World Youth Day 2000 in Rome. Two hundred of them also went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land before continuing on to Rome. Testimonies to the Glory of God is a compilation of the thoughts and reflections of the young pilgrims regarding their World Youth Day experiences.
|"The love these young people have for their faith, their Pope|
and for Christ is truly inspiring"
These testimonies are very touching, as some tell how individuals went to confession during the pilgrimage for the first time in years. Many conversions of heart took place, possibly inspired by the preaching of the many priests who accompanied the pilgrimage, by the witness of other young people and by the awe-inspiring surroundings of the holy places they visited.
Many of the young people experienced the emotional highs and lows that are characteristic of World Youth Days. With just over two million young people in Rome for the week, it was a happy but chaotic time! The conditions of accommodation that many had to cope with were not pleasant, to say the least, but the joyous experiences of seeing the Pope and attending Masses that he celebrated certainly made the journey worthwhile.
The Holy Land was a truly memorable time for the young people as they visited places such as Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. They attended Mass at many of the holy places such as the Church of the nativity in Bethlehem and on top of Mt Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place.
Also included in this compilation are the testimonies of some of the priests and bishops who attended World Youth Day - Archbishop Pell and Bishops Hilton Deakin, Joe Grech and Denis Hart. Many of them were greatly impressed by the faith of the young people they accompanied and moved by their witness. Fr Paul Stuart, Co-ordinator of Catholic Vocations in the Melbourne Archdiocese, wrote: "The hand of God, the life of Jesus Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit could be seen at work."
Anyone who believes that the Roman Catholic Church has no future or that its teachings are irrelevant to young people today should read this book. The love these young people have for their faith, their Pope and Christ is truly inspiring. As one young priest who travelled with the Melbourne group wrote: "They are the young face of our Church, a Church which should be proud to have such a bright and promising future."
The addresses the Pope gave during World Youth Day and the homily he preached during the outdoor Mass are also provided in their entirety - themselves, eloquent testimonies to the glory of God.
Catherine Sheehan is a Melbourne Catholic writer.