The following are some photos and stories from the five young people from the Wellington, Palmerston North, and Hamilton Diocese who went to Melbourne with the Passionist Youth Experience. They were: Nicholas Alsford and Daniel Kleinsman (Wellington), Matt Sissons, Tim Darbyshire (Palmerston North), and Tori Prendergast (Hamilton).

In order left to right at back: Daniel, Nicholas, Matt, Tim; in front: Tereska, Tori. Tereska Alsford was the chaperone.


2nd photo: Telstra Dome, Melbourne, commissioning mass for WYD. 3rd photo: Pilgrimage across Sydney Harbour Bridge on day of vigil at Randwick Racecourse. 4th photo: Tereska, Daniel & Rachel with some Italian pilgrims.

Matt Sissons

Well, how can I do a write up for the most amazing experience of my life?

I know I’m meant to be writing more about my experience at World Youth Day. But how can I, when my most awesome part of the two weeks in Australia was the Passsionist Youth Encounter in Melbourne. I spent from the 8th to the 13th of July at Endeavour Hills in Melbourne. This week actually outdid World Youth Day in Sydney by far for me.

It was so much fun and I actually experienced God through the people at this retreat. The whole atmosphere at Endeavour Hills was just so amazing; I got to know so many extraordinary people, hearing their stories and experiences. I was so moved by how loving everyone was and just how we all seemed to just ‘click’. “The passion of Jesus to me is feeling the love from others and how Jesus is present through others kind and caring actions. To receive Jesus’ passion you just need to be willing to accept it.” (Quote from my journal while at Endeavour Hills)

From this experience I have learned that, No!!! we Catholics aren’t different no matter where we are from. We hold the same values and the same beliefs. I made many lifelong friends that I am sure I will catch up with at the next World Youth Day and at the next Passionist Retreat. Us five Kiwis had the most awesome host family. They were so kind and generous. I celebrated my 16th birthday over in Melbourne and it was a great birthday, my host parents made me pancakes and got me a cake. That same day was the Mass at the Telstra Dome with forty thousand other people from around the world. It was a truly amazing experience, especially on my birthday that I will never forget.

Now lets get on to Sydney and the week of World Youth Day.

This week was awesome all my mates arrived and then it was time to hang out and share stories with them about my awesome time in Melbourne.

While in Sydney I attended daily catachesis events with amazing bishops from around the world and it was very cool how they shared their stories it was truly inspirational.

We stayed in a school in Sutherland (about 45minutes out of Sydney by train ) for the week, having to use communal showers and sleeping in one room on the floor. (We did have our airbeds.) Sharing the space with a few hundred people was all part of the fun.

The best part of Sydney and World Youth Day would definitely have to be the night at Randwick Racecourse, this night was just the best. I was so moved about the sheer number of people and just how we were all there to celebrate our faith together with the Pope.

These two weeks in Australia will always be with me and I will never forget this truly amazing experience. We spent about a year fundraising before July 2008 and now it has been worthwhile. Now we are back we are going to speak about our WYD experience at Mass and other groups in our Parish.

Thank you very much to all those who have made all this possible for me, may God always watch over you and be with you. Matt

Tim Darbyshire

Hi, I’m Tim Darbyshire and I’m from Palmerston North.

Going to the Passionist Youth Encounter and World Youth Day was an experience I will never forget and will tressure forever. I learnt so many things, funny, interesting, and just plain weird. I learnt that there are so many other people in the world who are Christians and that a lot of people express their faith in different ways. I also learnt that no matter how hard life is there are people who have it worse than me. Also that the church doesn’t mind Harry Potter as long as you understand it is a fiction story and its not true.

The atmosphere at WYD was crazy and I especially enjoyed meeting all the different nationalities, like the French whom for about 40 min in the train sang the whole time and it was amazing to listen to. I also enjoyed being able to spend time to get to know people while you could just enjoy yourself and be happy to be a Christian.

Many things happened while I was away for those two weeks one of the funniest was when we were in a train and a girls cell phone started ringing with a familiar song that us five kiwis knew, and Daniel decided he would start singing the song then the ring tune stopped and Daniel continued singing while the whole trained looked at him blankly…….

Another thing that happened was at the PYE when I was asked to be Jesus for the Stations of the Cross in front of all the people at the encounter. Putting the nerves aside I actually really enjoyed it and participating fully in the stations helped to understand them more and how hard it was for Jesus to carry his cross (Because I struggled with mine!!!).

Out of WYD and the PYE I think I enjoyed the PYE the most because you didn’t just get to meet the people from other countries you befriended them and with the technology in the world today I can keep in touch with all of them very easily. If anyone was going to WYD in the future I strongly advise you to go to the PYE or a retreat involving other nationalities.

Tori Prendergast

What I learnt about the world

  • What I learnt about life
  • What I learnt about my faith
  • The highlight of my pilgrimage and why
  • What surprises I experienced.
  • The most moving moment and why?
  • The funny moments
  • What I found challenging.

Where do I go from here………..before and after wyd……

Well I flew from home to Wellington on Monday the 7th July and met four other boys I was travelling with, whom I’d met on the previous Passionist retreats. The fun started right then on the way to the airport reminiscing about the previous times we’d been together and we talked and talked and talked right through the airport, the flight, the next airport and the drive to our host parish in Melbourne! We were welcomed by a few of the locals from The St Paul Apostle parish in Melbourne and started mocking each other’s accents right away.

After sorting out the official stuff we were picked up by our host family, Helen and Garry who were absolutely fantastic! We were taken to their house and met two of their children and had dinner with them. The next day we spent in Melbourne city enjoying having free time to catch up even more with each other! This was a day full of laughs and times we’ll never forget!

The next day kicked off the youth encounter which was absolutely fantastic. Here was where we met other pilgrims from all over the world, from all different backgrounds but with the same goal…learning about the Passionist’s and their sharing of the passion and compassion of Christ, also preparing ourselves for WYD08 and making new friends!

Over the next four days we enjoyed some of the best and most exciting times of our lives! We had a daily mass, small group sessions, free time to bond with the people we’d just met, time for music (and dancing!) daily prayer, guest speakers with amazing and inspiring stories, the Days in the Diocese Mass at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne and finally a thirteen and a half hour bus ride up to Sydney.

Something that stays in my mind, even a month after this amazing encounter and something I’ll carry with me forever is the friendships we’ve formed and the fun that we had. A memory I will never forget is the first time I experienced mass in a huge crowd, there were about fifty thousand of us at the Days in the Diocese mass at the Telstra Dome that night and the atmosphere was awe inspiring.

There are too many funny moments to mention but… I’m sure the boys and I will never forget the song “Big Girls’ Don’t Cry” by Fergie and especially never forget Daniel singing it on the train in Melbourne. Also as I love music I had a great time as anywhere we went the boys got out the guitar and we had sing-alongs everywhere imaginable from buses to trains to the lounge to bedrooms to parks…you name it we had a sing-along there!

For anyone interested in doing something like this I would highly recommend it, it was the best experience of my life and I definitely can’t wait for Madrid. I would also like to thank all those who made this possible, with special reference to Kerry and John for your fundraising, and especially a big thank you to Fr John and Bridget of Endeavour Hills Parish Melbourne.

We were very privileged to attend this encounter and appreciate all your hard work.

God bless, Tori

Nic Alsford

One of my greatest moments of World Youth Day was visiting St Mary’s Cathedral and praying by the relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio. For me, this was a very moving experience just to see how even a young man can make such a difference. It was also quite saddening to see how such a good man could die at such an early age.

World Youth Day was such a powerful experience. Just seeing how many young people were gathered is Sydney was very moving indeed. It was a great thing seeing people from all corners of the earth gathered together in one place, all there for Jesus.

The concerts and events that were held were a lot of fun and it was great to see such a range of different nationalities performing, I especially enjoyed the Italian dance party we went to, after not knowing what to expect from it I found it to be very entertaining and I had a great time!!

I found the hospitality of all the people in Sydney and the compassion of the volunteers absolutely amazing. One day at the school we were staying at, the fathers of the children that attended the school came and cooked us breakfast before going off to work. This simple act of kindness was greatly appreciated by us all and just the thoughtfulness of the fathers was outstanding gesture of service.

Overall I thought WYD was possibly the most amazing experience of my life and I can’t wait till Spain in 2011!!!

Dan Kleinsman

I could never have anticipated such an experience.

The atmosphere was amazing! It gave you such a buzz to be walking amongst hundreds of thousands of other young people – all singing, or chanting, or dancing, or waving a flag. And the barriers of difference, discomfiture, unfamiliarity and even language, just did not exist. It was so easy to make conversation with people you had never met before, even people who could hardly speak your language! And to be amongst so many energetic, happy, friendly and noisy people was so exhilarating, so refreshing!

Also, the knowledge that all these other people were there because of God and their faith – because of Catholicism, was so encouraging, so inspiring. For once we were the majority. And that meant so much to me because often – amongst my friends, amongst the public, or even other Christians, I feel the odd one out as a Catholic. But this time it was quite the opposite and it gave me such a strong sense of pride to be a Catholic at such an event! And that pride has remained with me as I have returned home! Friends had seen it all on TV and I can say I was a part of that and share my awesome experiences! That gave me a real boost of energy, confidence and enthusiasm – spiritually.

And the experience was yet so much more. For it was so exciting to be meeting so many people from all around the world, however the Passionist Youth Encounter in Melbourne allowed us to actually get to know the people. We shared and compared our different lifestyles, we prayed together, ate together, danced together, we lived together for that week. And this was something very special – if it was not for this encounter, we would have never been able to get to know these people. A priest once said at a youth mass in Wellington, that it is important to find and connect with others who share your faith, for together we can do so much more. This is exactly what we were doing and this was exactly the effect.

However the experience was not just about getting to know other young Catholics, but getting to know God and our purpose in God’s world. And at the opening mass in Melbourne, Fr. Joachim Rego CP specifically addressed us and explored this. He told the story of a young man experiencing depression who, when asked to illustrate his life and feelings at an appointment with a therapist, drew a vase with massive black cracks all through it. Weeks later, after a definite improvement in his mental health, the man’s therapist retrieved the drawing and asked his patient to use it again to illustrate what life was now like. The man took a golden pastel and drew great big rays of golden light from the cracks!

Father Joachim then went on to talk about how we, as young people, are called to make a difference today, but that this can simply be achieved – by being ourselves. We do not need to be heroes; we do not need to be what we are not. We must simply be ourselves, and be so, for God.

To me, this says that although we are all flawed, although we all have cracks in our personalities, God shines through those cracks, and we need to only be ourselves to manifest the glory of God. For example, while we as young people sometimes lack concentration, maturity and wisdom, it is through these cracks that our enthusiasm and energy shines, and through this that God is manifested. When Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM spoke at the encounter, he explained that the enthusiasm and energy of young people is exactly what motivated him to participate in another World Youth Day. And so it’s clear that as young people we can make a difference, and we do have a role in God’s world – today!

These are just a few of the many great memories and experiences of World Youth Day and the Passionist Youth Encounter in Melbourne, all of which have certainly challenged, inspired and encouraged me on my journey with God and others, and I cannot wait for WYD ‘RID, Spain 2011! I would like to sincerely thank all those who have supported me financially and in prayer, it means very much to me and will never be forgotten, for it was the experience of as lifetime – and would not have been possible without you or your support.