By Sylvia Defendi
While Sydney had a few days to get used to the growing number of pilgrims trawling the streets each day, nothing could have prepared them for their total and sudden disappearance.
Over 300,000 pilgrims gathered in over 235 locations around the city area for prayer, song, teaching and discussion on the role of the Holy Spirit from July 16-18.
Various lay and religious members of the Church, who came from all over the world, presented the catecheses to pilgrims in over 29 languages.
At Sydney’s Entertainment Centre over 2000 pilgrims packed an auditorium where the Missionaries of God’s Love led a praise and worship session and pilgrims listened to the words of Marjorie Liddy, whose indigenous painting of the Holy Spirit graced much of the World Youth Day material.
And while many enjoyed the perfect execution of a 2000-stong Mexican wave, which spread across the auditorium, pilgrims were particularly impressed by the words of Archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama.
The Nigerian Archbishop spoke about the Holy Spirit and its role in the Church and was given a standing ovation from pilgrims delighted with his message of hope and celebration.
“Just looking at you all from all parts of the world makes my heart leap with joy,” the charismatic Archbishop began.
He mentioned that 400 bishops, 4000 priests and 3000 religious had travelled to Sydney to celebrate the faith with all the pilgrims.
“Some people say we do not need God to be happy, we want to tell the world that God is necessary and the spirit must flow in all parts of the world,” he told pilgrims, adding that with the Holy Spirit in them they could do a lot to better the Church and the world. “When you have the Holy Spirit in you, you learn to see beyond yourself. With the Holy Spirit I can say all of you are my brothers and sisters,” explained the Archbishop.
But the work of the Holy Spirit spanned further than the grace to break down social barriers, the Archbishop told youth.
“Learn from each other while here. God has made us different but He does not want us to become indifferent. Respect each other,” he said.
“You have a moral duty to be worried about others. Reach out to the poor, sick and deprived brothers and sisters.”
Inspiring many young pilgrims the Archbishop continued his speech by challenging youth to be leaders in the Church and in wider society.
“Some of you seated here will be presidents and prime ministers of your own countries and when you do, remember that there are others that need you to reach out to them.
In the spirit of WYD, pilgrims where told that they all had gifts that they should use to promote the Church and further its good works throughout the globe.
“We want you to be active, not passive consumers of religious goods,” Archbishop Kaigama told pilgrims.