A 24-hour retreat at Hato Paora during the first weekend in May was, in the words of one young pilgrim, ‘an absolute blast’. A series of informational talks on Sydney, games, as well as sharing—both food and faith—made it a great preparatory event for the journey to World Youth Day in July.
Around 250 people from all over the Palmerston North Diocese attended the retreat. Groups from Taranaki, Whanganui, Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay and the Manawatu gathered to share 24 hours under one roof. It was indeed an exceptional opportunity not only to learn about what to expect in Sydney in terms of weather, bugs and those who are perhaps more territorial than others, but also to just relax and put things into perspective.
Saturday evening was the highlight for many young people. A number of groups performed musically and dramatically showcasing the talent of our young Catholics. At midnight Frs Chris and Simon celebrated Mass in the chapel where the catechesis animation team led the congregation through prayer and song.
Thanks to the efforts by Jonny Boon, Kathleen Field and Mary-Grace Williams, the weekend was a great success enabling young people from all over the diocese to forge new friendships and renew themselves spiritually. Now that all the payments for this huge event have been completed, the young people and their leaders and chaperones could focus on the real reason for making the pilgrimage to Sydney in July 2008: To celebrate our faith and church, but also to meet Jesus in all the thousands gathered together to praise his name.