Following the Journey of the WYD Cross and Icon through the Wellington Archdiocese towards the end of June, the precious symbols of young Catholicism gifted to the youth of the world by Pope John Paul II in 1982, moved north.
After a handover between dioceses on Wednesday 20 June at Pukekaraka Marae, Otaki, the cross and icon were taken to St Joseph’s Parish, New Plymouth, on Thursday morning for a powhiri and a pilgrimage to the TSB Stadium via Puke Ariki for a noon liturgy.
Then the cross and icon arrived in Whanganui for a 5pm powhiri at Te Rau Oriwa Marae.
Here Bishop Peter Cullinane marvelled at the amazing foresight of Pope John Paul II in setting in motion World Youth Day and how the young people stepped forward to respond to this gesture of love.
After an overnight vigil in St Mary’s Church, Whanganui, during which different Eucharistic communities had time to worship, there was a 7am Mass followed by a poroporoake (farewell) before the cross and icon were carried the three kilometres through teeming rain to Cullinane College.
The college kapa haka group welcomed the cross and icon after which they were carried around the chapel. The kapa haka group and the college band gave a performance in the college gymnasium to honour the cross and icon.
Seniors from Cullinane College then carried the cross and icon to Hato Paora College.
The WYD Cross and Icon arrived in Wairoa in the middle of the night and in the middle of winter! However, after a day of high winds and showers throughout the rest of Hawkes Bay, it turned out to be a wonderfully brisk, calm and still night in Wairoa.
The programme began with a simple service and reflection period in St Peter’s Church after which the cross was carried in procession to the Tawhiti a Maru marae and St Theresa’s Church. A concert featuring Wairoa youth and artists took place in the church before the cross and icon were formally handed over to the team from the Diocese of Hamilton.
Youth numbers in town for the visit were boosted by a busload of young people who had followed the cross and icon from Napier, Hastings and Flaxmere. They contributed very much to the energy levels and success of the whole occasion with their high-powered singing and enthusiastic response to the concert.
The team entrusted with the care and transport of the cross and icon on their journey throughout the Diocese of Palmerston North, were particularly pleased to reach Wairoa having been deprived of sleep for more than two days. They had some well earned ‘shut eye’ on the Tawhiti a Maru marae!
The handover to the Hamilton Diocese took place at 3.30am.