By the time you are reading this we will probably be well on our way across Australia.
The Boylen family have packed up their things and are camping their way across the outback in a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Sydney.
World Youth Day can, in many ways, be a life shaping event in people’s lives.
We have both been to previous World Youth Days.
Two years ago, when it was announced that it would be hosted in Sydney, we immediately began plans to take our whole family. World Youth Day, whether you are going or not, can be a fantastic catalyst for helping young people and children to learn about and develop their faith.
We are making the whole process of getting there a pilgrimage; a journey of faith. We can’t wait to meet, and for the children to meet, other pilgrims from around the world who are also journeying to World Youth Day.
We’re looking forward to seeing all the things that dioceses across Australia are doing to welcome our visitors and to celebrate.
We have allowed between eight and ten days to get to Sydney so that, hopefully, we aren’t too rushed. We also want to have plenty of time on the way talking to the kids about different aspects of the life of the Church. Some of the broad areas we’d like to cover include:
The papacy: Who is the Pope? Where does he come from? Why do we have one? We’d also like to talk to the kids more about who Pope Benedict XVI is and some of his main themes. Also, John Paul II because he gave so much to the modern Church and particularly the World Youth Days.
Pilgrimage: What is a pilgrimage? We plan to talk about holy places, other famous pilgrimages and stories of famous pilgrims in the lives of the saints and scripture.
World Youth Day: What is it? The symbols, themes, etc.
Prayer: We want to make our trip a prayerful one. We plan to make the most of immersing our children in a routine of prayer using the Rosary, song as prayer, informal prayer and introducing them to the idea of an examination of conscience by way of doing it as a family at the end of each day.
Scripture: Rediscovering and introducing new bible stories and taking time to explore them while we drive.
Lives of the Saints: Exploring with the children more deeply the lives of the saints. In particular the lives of the patrons of World Youth Day but also a few of our favourites such as St Anthony of Padua (our parish), St’s Francis and Clare, St Benedict (the Pope’s namesake) and of course Blessed Mary MacKillop (our very own Aussie saint).
We also want the kids to learn something that all pilgrims learn and that is that we rely on each other. We belong to a community of people who rely on each other and support each other.
Our trip wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for people who cared about us and helped to make it possible. Those who did extra hours at work so that Derek could be away, our lovely house sitters, neighbours who are taking care of the dog, people at World Youth Day who will feed us, those we will meet on the way who will enrich our lives.
We are part of a loving faith community who care and support each other. We are planning to keep a blog of our journey (although it will only be updated sporadically when we have access to the internet).
On there will be a link that goes into more depth about each of the different areas and what we want to share with the kids plus a few extras.
Please feel free to use it.
And keep us in your prayers – camping across Australia with five children six and under is a little daunting, we can give you the tip.
Find Karen’s blog “Learning Life” at www. signspeak.wordpress.com.