WYD: Diocese of Madison Pilgrims Share Journey

by Sister Julie Ann on July 5, 2008

wyd08logo.gifFollow the World Youth Day pilgrimage of seventy four pilgrims associated with the Diocese of Madison, WI, beginning July 7 -25, 2008. The group will be participating in the Days in the Diocese events in Melbourne, Australia,  July 9-13, at the actual WYD happenings in Sydney,  July 14-20, and then are spending a couple of days post WYD sightseeing in Sydney. A brief stop is planned in Tokyo, Japan traveling in both directions.

anna_schiedermayer.jpgRead reports from the main group of seventy four individuals from this diocese, as well as another twenty pilgrims from UW-Madison and seventeen others led by Schoenstatt Sisters which are traveling separately, but will join together in Sydney. The seventy four consists of: three priests, three diocesan staff, twenty five seminarians, seventeen high school youth ages sixteen to eighteen, seventeen young adults, seven adult chaperones, and two guests from outside the diocese who are also young adults.

Ever wonder what it would be like to travel to WYD? Read below. Questions are welcome.

27 thoughts on “WYD: Diocese of Madison Pilgrims Share Journey”

  1. Anna S. says:

    Hi, this is Anna. 🙂

    Tomorrow morning at 6:30 am, we are leaving for the great gathering of Catholic youth with the Pope on the 20th of July. This day is also known as World Youth Day. Many thousands of youth (ages 16-35) come from all over the world to celebrate with eachother and the our Pope, Benedict the 16th. This year it is in Australia, and I’m going to be a part of it. 🙂 I am going with my Diocese, and we are going early for an event called Days in the Diocese, we will hang out with host families in the Diocese of Melbourne for a week and do fun things with them. Then we will travel to Sydney for the World Youth Day activities that start before the 20th. Also, we will stay a few days after the 20th and do some sightseeing in Sydney!

    My good friends, Theresa and Suzi, and I will be posting whenever we get a chance to. My dad is bringing his laptop, so we should possibly have daily access at times. So checking every day wouldn’t be a bad idea. 🙂

    We will post pictures, day summaries, reflections… whatever we feel like posting.

    I wouldn’t expect the next post till we get to Melbourne… (Which is in Australia) and we won’t get there till about 48 hours after we leave Chicago tomorrow at around noon. But, who knows, we might get a chance to post while we’re waiting for our next flight in Tokyo, or in Sydney.

    Keep us in your prayers! (and know that you’re in ours!)


  2. Anna, we are excited to be part of your pilgrimage group long distance. Indeed, we will be keeping you in our prayers, but also are well aware that you are on this trip because you put some heartfelt sacrifice into the journey. Photos will be logged and linked above so that we are able to feel visually that “we are with you” near the water, on land or in the air. Peace and all good.

  3. Suzi W. says:

    Hi! Suzi here,

    I’m the “Suzi” that Anna’s talking about. Just a bit about myself: I’m seventeen, turning 18 on the trip. 🙂 I like taking pictures, lots and lots of them. And right now I’m too tired from packing to think of much else. I just wanted to introduce myself.


  4. Suzi, it is good that Anna is in good company. Let the adventure begin…

  5. Anna S. says:

    Finally in Melbourne!!

    Here we are, who knows how many hours or days later. Some of us haven’t slept since we woke up 5:00 Monday morning, and at the moment it’s 9:45 Wednesday evening. Pray that those who couldn’t catch a few winks on our naps sleep well tonight. It’s really a strange experience having 25 hours of daylight =)

    At the moment we are with our homestay families, and learning much about the culture. I was allowed to drive the car around the wrong side of the streets and backwards on the roundabouts… I was doing really well until I crunched along the side of the “gutters” every turn I made… There’s alot of car on the wrong side =)

    We’ve learned alot about the food here as well. “Lemonade” actually refers to Sprite, 7up, and the like, what we would think of as lemonade is referred to as “traditional lemonade”, while “lemon squash” is a very unique (and good!) mix between traditional lemonade and sprite. And ketchup is not ketchup, but tomato sauce. What they call “ketchup” is… well, we couldn’t figure out what it was. The closest we could come to was a crossbreed between tomato sauce, mild salsa, and worchester sauce… we went through the entire fridge trying to figure this one out 🙂 Tomorrow for breakfast we sample vegimite, but they won’t tell us what’s in it, for fear we won’t try it afterwards… all we know is it’s an acquired taste…

    Well, I’m going to head to bed, as it’s been a very long last three days. Hope all is doing well!


  6. Too many hours of daylight? (I guess God knew what He was doing when He created night!) Anna, I like that line about “acquired taste”. It is good to hear yours and the others’ openness to your host families’ ordinary lives. Thanks for carrying us along on your journey. We’ve been doing our part in praying for all of you. Peace and all good.

  7. Hi Anna,
    I do hope that you have rested/slept ALOT by the time you read this! I want to echo Sister Julie Ann’s enthusiasm of your “carrying us along on this Spirit-filled journey!”

    We just received the news that the Green Bay diocese (where our Motherhouse is located) has a new Bishop: The Most Rev. David L. Ricken http://www.gbdioc.org/

    The excitement of sharing WYD with you and your fellow pilgims combined with this news is a great way to be part of the movement of the Holy Spirit in our Church!

    Blessings, prayers, energy, fun, new experiences and all the graces Jesus is pouring out be upon you Anna!

  8. Anna S. says:

    I apologize for the long delay between posts. We’ve been having late nights, early mornings, and very full days since we arrived =) This morning was a treat though, since we were able to sleep in past 7:00 XD (it’s currently 10:30 in the morning here). Usually we’re out the door by 7:45, minimum, b/c our host family has to work. They’re a young couple with an amazing sense of humor and huge hearts! Three other girls from the diocese are with me, but we only met less than a week ago, so it’s been quite the amazing experience.

    I’ve met lots of people from our diocese alone, and almost as many Aussies! We taught them American football in exchange for learning Australian football (aka “footy”). I personally enjoy the Aussie one more, since you don’t necessarily have to catch the ball to play. Even if it bounces on the ground you can still all dive for it and run… The ball’s shaped similar to an American football, but it’s a bit rounder and softer, and the game itself is a football/soccer/volleyball/basketball/quidditch (well, the goals at least =) ) mix, but it’s actually very easy to understand and follow, once you get past the slang =)

    We’ve done many things these last few days, including a welcoming party, sports day (above), and touring Melbourne (pronounced “melbern”) by tram and bus the last two days. Friday we went to a huge Days in the Diocese Mass in the Telestra Dome which seats over 50,000 people… It was amazing seeing all the different flags and hearing all the different languages… Everyone from France to Vietnam to Barbados to Chile, but mostly Chileans, Germans, and Italians 🙂

    Usually as we’re walking around the city, you’ll just go along w/a group for a while talking, until you have to split up a few blocks later. We’ve had lunch with Italians, long chats with those from Barbados, tours from Aussies, singing matches with Irishmen… It’s been an amazing experience, and in the words of our host family “that was only the easy part”!

    Today is going to be a free day with our host families, and we’ll be having a Barbee (BBQ) complete with lamb and kangaroo with our host family’s families, if that makes any sense =) At the moment though i have to get my laundry together, as they’re very energy conscious and have no driers, and it’s cold outside, so we’ll have to wait for them to freeze dry… =)

    I’ll try to write more later. Thanks for reading and God bless!


  9. Anna, you manage to share much in the time you do have! Thanks for educating us in the finer arts of Australian life. May the Lord continue to fill your days with rich experiences that make the world a smaller place. Peace and all good.

  10. G’day from down under!

    Today we load busses for a 10-12 hour drive from Melbourne to Sydney, as we transition from “Days in the Diocese” to World Youth Day proper. We sadly said good-byes to our host families here in Melbourne last night at a Mass celebrated by the local bishop, followed by food and fellowship.

    Yesterday was a free day with our host families. Most of us slept in a little later than usual and then did light sight seeing in the Melbourne area. Bobby Marlsand and I, who are being hosted by a lovely Phillipino family named the Larins, drove about an hour west to a seaside town where we ate and walked the beach.

    Please keep us all in your prayers and know that you are in ours.

  11. By the way, we hope to send along some pictures, but have been hampered by technical issues. You can however find some good coverage of our group at:


    Scroll down a bit to see one crazy project undertaken by Fr. Paul Arinze to raise money for the group from his parish in Dodgeville.

  12. It is a delight to hear from you Anna and Eric!
    I hope that your 10+ hours of traveling from Melbourne to Sydney went well?! Your host families sound like wonderful hospitable new friends!

    Thanks for the link with the Madison Catholic Herald! The picture of Fr.Arinze’s energy for helping this pilgrimage to happen says a lot!

    Do continue to enjoy all the wonderful experiences that the Holy Spirit is guiding you on! Peace, prayers and all good!

  13. Eric, it is good to hear that Australia is agreeing with you as well. Thanks for helping us visually board the bus with you on the way to Sydney in our minds. Peace and all good in the days ahead.

  14. Suzi Warden says:

    THE LUGGAGE IS HERE!!! That was the jubilant cry of the pilgrims as they arrived late last night at the school for bedtime. Two days ago we left our luggage at the parking lot of St. Peter Chanel to be packed into vans and sent to Sacred Hearts Church in Mosman ( A sydney suburb). We were taken on a 14 hour bus ride with many stops to sydney, these stops had expensive and crappy food… XD so by the end we just went to mcdonalds. I’m using a laptop, so bothering to capitolize things gets a bit hard.

    Getting to the school 14 women were offered homestay opportunities, not minors though. Two women volunteered to stay back and help some of the chaparones with the left over minor girls, so Anna and I got to go homestay. We are super thankful because there is a warm bed, no snoring, warm showers… at the school, they sleep on the floor, about 30 to a room, and there are 4 showers for about 250 people, three of the showers are outdoors in a wooden box… seriously… unfortunatly, they are housed with Europeans who don’t shower with swimsuits on… ><

    The opening mass yesterday was tons of fun. The groups got majorly split up, so there were groups al over the mass. And it was hard to find anyone since there were many many american flags. Otherwise, yesterday was full of seeing Sydney and waiting in line to get into the Barangaroo, then get a hot meal after 30 mins, the have mass with thousands of other people.

    Well, it’s time to leave for catechesis this morning. See ya later!


  15. Suzi, it is good that you and Anna are having some quality time together on this WYD adventure/pilgrimage. Don’t forget to let us know the actual date that you celebrate your birthday! Thanks for sending us these great updates! Peace and all good.

  16. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24026389-5016937,00.html

    This article is a great companion piece to the comments of Anna, Suzi and Eric–“World Youth Day Joy is Infectious”

  17. I can imagine that Anna, Suzi, Eric and all of you pilgrims at WYD are experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church in unexplainable ways…

    As I pondered the Holy Fathers message at the closing liturgy our Franciscan charism of joy was an emphasis! Benedict XVI affirmed the following:

    “The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people,” he said. “She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power!

    I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!”

    We are excited to hear more from our pilgrims who heard all this in person!
    Peace and all good!

  18. Well, we’re slowly recovering from the last few days of WYD 2008. The final Mass with our Holy Father was a wonderful experience. It’s exhilarating but also somewhat sobering to be a part of such an event. Something like a million people gathered in one spot to praise God… The immense variety of people all joined together in prayer… All filled with joy despite disastrous failure in the toilet facilities, universal exhaustion, and a widespread affliction with coughs, sniffles and sore throats.

    The streets of Sydney have thinned out considerably now (Monday, the day after the final WYD Mass), but crowds of cheering, singing, dancing pilgrims continue to roam the downtown area. In discussions on buses and trains, local residents repeatedly echo the positive impact WYD has had upon their city. They say that they have never seen such happy, courteous, joy-filled crowds. We pray that the city (and the world) will be positively changed by this event.

    Tonight we celebrated Mass in a local park (we weren’t able to get time in any local church or even get a ballroom in the hotel in which we’re staying). After that, we joined Bishop Morlino for dinner. Tomorrow we’re playing and sightseeing. We leave Thursday for our 2-day trip home.

    I hope and pray that this pilgrimage will change us, our diocese and the world.

    God Bless!

  19. Hey, I am from the Milwaukee Diocese of Wisconsin, Representing St. Michael’s Church. But I traveled with the Madison Diocese. WYD has been such a wonderful experience for me. The best part about WYD for me, is the chance to meet, YOUNG YOUTHS from all around the world. I would love to come to the next WYD.
    Kai Leng Vang

  20. Thanks so much Eric and Kai Leng for sharing such a moving, life-changing experience with us! Kai Leng, I am sure that many of the young people at WYD feel as you do–a real affirmation at meeting many other faith-filled youth from our Church!

    Eric, your reflection about the final Mass with our Holy Father being a wonderful experience; exhilarating but also somewhat sobering to be a part of such an event. Something like a million people gathered in one spot to praise God… gives me cause to be very grateful; God does indeed share God’s love with us and as the Holy Father said in his departing message today,

    “the Church can rejoice in today’s youth and be hope-filled for the world of tomorrow.”

  21. Anna S. says:

    Only one more Day in Sydney, and the dream becomes just that, a dream. Today we had a free day of touring, and my dad and I took a full day tour of the zoo and beach. Both were beautiful, especially the beach at sunset. The ferries around the harbor are breathtaking, and the animals in the zoo were so unique, there’s no question of a greater Creator.

    Some say the zoo’s one of the best in the world, and I’m very inclined to agree with them. I didn’t realize how small platypuses were, or how big wombats are…a curled up, sleeping wombat is just slightly bigger than a microwave, but a lot cuter and cuddlier =D I was also able to touch some echidnas (a cross between an anteater and a big hedgehog, but it lays eggs…) unbeknowst to the zoo keepers, but the little creatures didn’t seem to mind or notice. We were able to get extremely close to almost all the animals, and if my arms were just 5 inches longer, I would have been able to pet a whole pack of kangaroos! (which, by the way, “kangaroo” is the aborigonal word for “I don’t understand what you’re saying”)

    The rest of the day was just as amazing, and it’s not over yet. It’s only about 8:00 in the evening here, so now everyone meets back together and goes out for dinner and drinks. The drinking age here is 18, and the minor rules are quite a bit different than in America, so we’re all safe, lol.

    I have to go meet back at our designated place. Tomorrow will be a similar day, except the whole group will be celebrating a Triditine Mass with Bishop Morlino tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for your prayers and comments!!


  22. Reading your blogs Anna has been so energizing! There is a beauty and peacefulness in your writing that comes from your heart and your deep appreciation for all you have experienced these weeks! Thank you so very much for sharing this journey with all of us! Our prayers continue for all of you pilgrims during these days of farewells and travels.

  23. I have read the WYD accounts and am so grateful to be able to receive firsthand accounts of the days in Australia. I praise and thank God for your flexibility, your endurance, your health and your joy in experiencing all that was offered during WYD. I also pray that you return home safely and thank you, thank you, thank you again for the first hand accounts. I think that is better than any press coverage!

  24. Happy Feast of St. Anne, Anna! May you know the intercession of this great saint all days, but especially on your journey home.

    Thanks to you, your father and your other companions for sharing so freely your experiences of the last days. You have made a difference in our lives by your sharing. (A sign your home dioceses are already transformed.)

    Thanks for the zoo report. Australia and animals (e.g. echidnas,kangaroos) are not romanticized notions! Peace and all good.

  25. Anna S. says:

    So sorry for the long delay in between posts, especially this last one. It seems slightly unreal and so far away, being in Australia and seeing the Pope less than two weeks ago. I thought time traveled fast in Australia, but really there was so much excitement and energy packed into each hour, that time must have gone exceptionally slow seeing with how much we managed to do in that small time frame! Now that we’re back in a routine…Well, that bittersweet Friday when the plane landed and the crowds were gone seems like ages ago, and just yesterday!

    The week after we got back was spent cramming in as much time as we could together, before school started and we were separated for good. Well, at least a more substantial period of time =) Our new found family has now dispersed to the four winds, eagerly waiting to get back together…but this time speaking Spanish!! Yes, we’ve already started planning the next one, we’re hopeless =D

    So since last week was full of last minute goodbyes, battling jet lag (more difficult than I imagined), enduring unknown sicknesses, spewing stories left and right, posting pictures, more last minute get togethers, more drives to different airports… oh, and sleeping (or at least trying to) =) It’s taken me this long to get back to the internet. Strange, I know, but true.

    Lesse, back to the trip… The final two days in Sydney were spent cramming as much tourism in as we could, resulting in early wake ups and late nights. Actually, near the end people were going on 52 hours without sleep, because we only had about 3-4 actual nighttime hours in between all the traveling, and most people didn’t want to spend their last few nights together sleeping, and decided that 4 hours wouldn’t do much anyway, and they’d just repack everything to make it fit (quite the game: how many girls have to stand on a suitcase for five guys to zip it shut. Harder than it looks 4:30 in the morning half an hour before you leave for the airport). It was a guaranteed recipe for sleeping in the plane though. I’ve never seen so many people snore at once =)

    We did spend a night in Narita, Japan (about 1 1/2 hour drive South from Tokyo), the second all nighter, and tried to enjoy the Japanese culture. Not too easy when you’re only walking out of habit and all there are so many Japanese Characters that and Arabic writing, no matter how tiny, is a relief to the eyes. But, try though we did, we ended up ducking into the closest restaurant with english words (after passing up two with Spanish subtitles and one in French…we were regretting that half a mile later =) ). Consequently we had a very cosmopolitan meal. We spent the evening at an Irish American restaurant/bar (it was, after all, distinctly Irish), eating Italian, while talking in Spanish to a Brazilian waitress in the heart of Japan on our single night there… Pathetic, yes, but not as bad as McDonalds 😀

    I’m sure there’s an entire year’s worth of events and stories I haven’t mentioned or glossed over. If you ever want me to describe something in particular, or want to know about one of the major events (which I know I didn’t do justice too), just ask and I’d be more than happy to oblige 🙂 Thank you all for being so patient with my long delays and even longer posts. It’s been a great pleasure doing this for you!! I’ll go face the crashing wave of facebook and scrounge up some of the really good pictures for you. Don’t worry, this isn’t over yet 😉 (Though pray I don’t get drowned, everyone took an average of 600-800 pictures each, minimum, and there were 74 of us, 76 by the end… And yes, they will all post on facebook, if they haven’t already. I’d be overjoyed if the maximum number of pictures per album wasn’t 60… ><)

    Thank you for all your time and prayers. It was a joy to go and a blessing to be able to share it with you!!
    Love in Christ,

  26. Angela says:

    Great blog and comments – I really enjoyed it. I’m from Perth, Western Australia and I went to WYD. It was my 2nd WYD, and it was totally awesome. I’m glad Anna (and friends) enjoyed it. 🙂

    We don’t use the word “ketchup” for anything. It’s just tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, etc.

    You were really lucky to be in Mosman. I stayed 1.5 hours away, and another Perth group were located 2 hours away.

  27. Anna, how sweet of you to get us up to the date on the last leg of the pilgrimage to Australia. As with all pilgrimages there is always a bit of penance involved (part of the definition), but you indeed were deeply aware of God’s presence with you. We would love to see a few pictures of the group, but especially any image that you feel was important to you personally. Peace and all good.

    Angela, you made our world so much smaller by commenting here. I enjoyed your information on ‘ketchup’ (or the non-existence of it might be more correct!) Food is essential for life, but it is how we make it more flavorable that makes it interesting whether comparing one individual person to another, much less from country to country. No wonder food channels are popular people pleasers!

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