World Youth Day 2011

The World Youth Madrid 2011 Pilgrims this year from Bosco College were Emma Salmon, Samantha Tilden, Harriett Cashmere, Samantha McGrath, Thomas Kingsley, Miss Bautista and I. We also had the pleasure of adopting Matthew Corby from De La Sale Cronulla who became part of our Bosco plus Matt group. We started our trip on bus six, which soon became known as bus sixtus, with 45 students and teachers from various Sydney catholic schools, as well as our “bus mum” Valentina.

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Bus 6 video


Our pilgrimage began in Florence with a walking tour, sharing our first mass as a “family” and a quick stop at the market cities. The weather was a huge wakeup call coming from winter in Australia, and as each city bought forward its beautiful history, it also brought rising temperatures.

As we passed through Sienna on our way to Assisi we visited the memorial of St. Catherine, where her head and her finger were preserved. The pilgrimage truly began when we entered the hillside town of Assisi, strolling through the cobblestone streets, learning about the devotion that St. Francis had to both God and the church.

The most memorable moment by far was the first night that we spent in Assisi. It was just getting dark at about 9.30, as we headed over the road from our hotel after dinner, where we met a fellow Aussie by the name of Sam Clear. No one was really sure what to expect, but when Sam casually started with “hey I'm Sam, and in 2006 I did a St. Francis and sold everything I owned, and then spent a year and a half walking fifteen and a half thousand km around the world to pray for unity” we knew we were in for something big.

Sam challenged us to allow God to walk with us on our journey and to let God enter our lives in everything we do. He said that the way we can start to become closer to God, is to try and say 100 little prayers each day, so that we are in continual conversation with God. After he had finished, we made our way to the church of the angels where we were invited to say a quiet prayer and head back for the night.

Travelling to Orvieto brought a quiet day (the first and only quiet day, we soon found out) where our Bosco family shared a lovely meal together. The Vatican City was the main highlight in Rome, especially when everyone visited St. Peters Basilica at night.

From there we headed over to Madrid where our real World Youth Day experiences began. With minimal English speaking Spanish people, we relied on two boys on our bus, Matias and Adrian to do all the translating for us.

The first catechesis that we attended was entitled “established in Jesus Christ”. The American priest that led the catechesis spoke about seven ways to get closer to God.


1. Spend time with Jesus Christ

2. Share a meal with God

3. Learn more about Jesus through the gospel

4. Get to know Mary better

5. Never get tired of saying to God “I am sorry”

6. Cleanse our lives from anything that bothers the ones that we love

7. Share our interests with people in our lives

The rest of the week included the pope’s arrival, the opening mass, the Australian gathering where in which we met up with Fr. Bernie, Aled, Sara and Erica, a catechesis from our very own cardinal George Pell, and the Stations of the Cross.

The 42 degree heat didn’t faze us when we had to walk 5km to the closing mass, and upon arrival at the sleep out, we found ourselves amongst millions of other pilgrims, all ready for the pope's re-arrival. Needless to say no one was impressed when our belongings were soon invaded by thousands of grasshoppers.

The atmosphere when we were walking around was hectic, and we all met so many people who were keen to trade souvenirs from their own countries for little koalas and kangaroos, as well as Australian flags and our Sydney catholic schools pilgrim shirts. As we watched the sun rise the next morning after a pathetic sleep, the grounds fell silent for mass with the pope. And although it was in Spanish, we were still able to understand what was going on and respond in English.

I don’t think that any of us will forget the wonderful trip that we shared with such amazing people anytime soon. It was truly a blessing and privilege to represent not only Bosco College but also Sydney Catholic Schools at World Youth Day Madrid 2011.


Renee Kennedy – WYD Pilgrim

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