"To live is to love without limits" – the Love and Life Site
During the week of WYD I was blessed with the chance to spend much of my time at the Love and Life Site. Organised by the Sisters of Life from New York, with help from the Knights of Columbus and the John Paul II Institutes, the Sydney campus of Notre Dame became a place for pilgrims to experience a culture of life.
The Sisters sought to create a community where everyone felt welcomed and accepted; a place for pilgrims to consider their unique dignity and how much they are loved by God.
The whole campus was transformed. In the mornings, catechesis and Mass were held in St Benedict’s chapel and for the rest of the day there were an assortment of events on the go.
The courtyard became a union of nations, a venue for socialising, eating meals and listening to concerts from famous Catholic artists like Matt Maher, Scythian and Fr Stan Fortuna’s community, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
Within the classrooms speakers discussed issues significant to the human person and the questions of the human heart. Topic titles like, “Sex in the City”, “Are You More than Your Genes?”, “God’s Vision for the Family” or “The Challenge of Pornography” drew people in and started them talking.
My role at the site was to simply “help out” which meant everything from talking to pilgrims and answering any questions, to serving meals or moving the many boxes of books the sisters were giving away.
It is difficult to isolate a favourite moment or highlight, for me the Love and Life Site had many special moments. Being able to stand and have your photo taken with Pope Benedict XVI was pretty exciting, yes it may have only been a cardboard cut-out but not everyone can tell from the photo…
Local businesses donated sandwiches, veggies and salads giving a welcome reprieve from the staple pilgrim menu of baked beans, bread, lamingtons and stew. A visit from the Co-ordinator of WYD, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, was a special honour for the site while meeting Catholic artist Matt Maher left me a little star struck. My experience at the Love and Life site was an injection of hope. It is easy to become pessimistic about the state of the world with the negative approach of the media and our culture towards issues of life.
But here at WYD were numerous people questioning our culture, looking at their own experiences of sexual relationships and the impact of abortion, contraception and the sexual revolution on their lives. It was a unique and amazing opportunity to see the Church’s relevance, to appreciate its teachings as an authentic truth of freedom and genuine love.
Bronia Karniewicz is executive officer of the Perth Archdiocesan Respect Life Office.