Highlights of our Pilgrimage

A highlight for me was getting up at 6.30am and watching the sun come up over the mountain in Montserrat, hanging out of my window. I will never see anything like that again and it was the most incredible, exhilarating thing I’ve ever seen.
– Bridget

The highlight of the trip was when the tour bus took us around the corner to look at la Sagrada familia. Lilly and I simultaneously look at each other and were completely speechless and just looked on in awe. It is a moment I will never ever forget.
– Gabby G

It’s hard to list one highlight of the trip, as there were so many breathtaking moments. I think what mattered the most to me was being able to share all these moments with not only the friends we had made within our travel group, but the amazing people we met from other countries. I will never forget the people I met on this trip.
– Ashley

Something that i will never forget is the vigil in the church at Montserrat when the monks allowed us behind the altar to sit in the choir chairs. It was an awesome, humbling moment sitting right under the black Madonna looking around at the paintings on the wall, the gold pillars and the rest of the congregation.
– Melissa

As i think back it is almost impossible to pick the highlight of the trip but something I will never forget is looking at the sun rise over the mountains at Montserrat each morning before attending mass during the IBYC. The view was amazing and something I will probably never see again! I loved meeting many people from numerous countries and getting involved in the cultural night at IBYC.
– Aleesha

My favorite part of the trip was Montserrat. It was a perfect balance between socializing with other countries and finding the deep meaning in the pilgrimage. The best moment was when the two were united in the Vigil in the Basilica. It was breathtaking being able to share faith and emotion with people of all different dialects and cultures in one silence that was life changing for everyone in the room.
– Savannah

For me there was no single defining highlight moment of the trip but rather the journey as a whole. My time in Montserrat however was a experience I will take with me wherever I go. The combination of spiritual finding within myself and sharing the experience with people from all over the world. The unity and new friendships I have made have brought a change in me that I’m forever grateful for.
– Andrea

Without a doubt the most incredible experience was Montserrat. Spending four days with three hundred awesome teenagers who are on fire for God from all around the world was the best experience of my life. Going on the long walk to the highest point in Montserrat was breathtaking, and the night Vigil in the Basilica with the Monks was indescribable. Every moment I had to convince myself that I WAS ACTUALLY staying in a near thousand year old monastery, living in an apartment surrounded by superb mountains, listening to the bells all night long, going to sleep to the sounds of the Chileans chanting and choirs singing, and playing free time football every day. Montserrat is my new favourite place in the world.
– Rachel

Although the whole trip has been absolutely breathtaking the architecture and culture of Barcelona was AMAZING! Seeing Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia is an experience I will never forget. Montserrat provided me with memories to last a lifetime. The IBYC cultural night was something I will take with me forever – while each group was performing the pride was evident as they were able to teach us a little bit about their homelands and we were able to do the same. The vigil in the basilica at Montserrat is another experience I doubt I will ever forget, praying where St Ignatius prayed to the black Madonna was mind-blowing, not many people can say they were able to spend a night praying on the altar of the basilica with the monks of Montserrat Abby and then were able to wander around the basilica reflecting and exploring – truly a once in a lifetime experience.
– Laila

No one moment I could call a favorite but for three weeks being around so many young people who shared the same faith had the same interests at heart was just incredible! It was amazing to see everyone bond so strongly, so quickly. People we met came from all over the world, every person had a different story, such a different life style but regardless of anyone’s background, faith brought us all together, and this feeling of belonging to such a large, incredible community is something we will never forget.

At Montserrat, the feeling when I stood on the edge of the mountain looking over the most spectacular view , wind in my hair… I have never felt more free, I truly thought at that moment that if I jumped I would be able to fly.

There is not just one moment in this trip that I could single out as my favorite… There have been so many and I just can’t choose. If I had to choose though I would have to pick Montserrat!! From the first moment upon our arrival I was shocked at just how gorgeous this mountain was… This place was amazing not only because of the scenery but also because of the reason we were there. IBYC was fantastic, words just can’t explain how good it was. I learnt so many amazing things and got to meet some of the most beautiful people. This is only one of my favorite parts from this incredible trip!!!!
– Morgan

I would just like to say that I have enjoyed every single part of this pilgrimage. In Barcelona I really enjoyed meeting everyone I would be staying with and I loved swimming at the beach. Every bit of Barcelona was beautiful. In Montserrat I really enjoyed meeting all the Benedictine schools from all around the world like Chile, Brazil and Canada. It was amazing, each part of it. Even the views. Madrid was an experience as I got really sick during the middle of Montserrat, so it wasn’t as fun, but all the girls tried so hard to make it fun. I really did enjoy being in the smelly gym with heaps of people, it was an awesome experience but I was really happy and sad at the same time when we moved into the hotels, happy because we were getting beds and showers and sad because we wouldn’t see everyone again. I really enjoyed the Father Robert Galea concert and the talks about chastity and the theology of the body. All together I have become a better person due to all the wonderful girls I have been on pilgrimage with. I love them all and it has been the best weeks of my life.
– Dani

For me, the trip does not end here… It is such a significant experience that its effects are bigger than just memories. A highlight though is the friendships I have made with the girls during our time together. You cannot properly know a person until you have travelled with them, so it’s a great way to meet people! As well as the Good Sam girls I’ve also had fun meeting the other pilgrims and locals we came across. My socializing skills have definitely improved and I feel that I’ve made a massive turn-around from being very stranger shy and anxious to actually wanting to take on the world and make more life-long friendships! Thanks to the girls and the amazing group of teachers and Sr Meg and Monica who made this once in a lifetime opportunity possible!
Lots of love, Rosie.

There is no way I can choose a best memory or even single out only one highlight of IBYC and WYD 2011 in Spain. I have definitely spent the most amazing weeks in a gorgeous country with beautiful people. The spectacular view and breathtaking walks in Montserrat, the pegging of and trading of flags with strangers at any time in any place, the golden sand and clear water at the beach in Barcelona, the hours shopping and admiring the ‘baguettes’, the tour of la Sagrada Familia, the many Metro stations and large crowds in Madrid as well as the sunny nights and late meals all over, are just some of the things that come to mind as I reflect on my recent time overseas. I laughed countless times, became closer to God, discovered the struggles associated with being a pilgrim, strengthened my faith, learnt about different cultures, met so many new people from all over the world and have gotten to know a great group of young Australian girls. I have had an unforgettable trip and I will treasure this experience always. Thanks to all the teachers and Good Sams students who made this dream of mine come true. Can’t wait for our next adventure together.
Love always, Grace xoxoxoxoxo

There is not one particular highlight that has made this pilgrimage to WYD 2011 wonderful. As a group we have experienced so many exciting things in the past few weeks like waking up on the gorgeous Montserrat Mountain with beautiful sunrises every morning, visiting the spectacular la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and meeting so many different people from across the world just to name a few. The one thing I will take away out of this journey is learning that although we come from different cultures across the world we can all unite to celebrate God. I also have made many friendships along the way. The girls that I have shared the experience with are extraordinary people and have made this pilgrimage very special, I look forward to catching up with them again.
All my love, Lilly.

This has been an absolutely amazing trip! I think that my highlight would definitely have to be Monserrat though. Meeting people from all over the world who shared the same Benedictine values and traditions was so much fun! They were all absolutely beautiful and so friendly, it was hard not to get along with them all. Not only did we meet many people, we also connected with our own Aussie group and more importantly, God. Each morning started off with a short mass, breakfast, then morning prayer. We then went off to our various activities or work shops and then would have dinner and night prayer each evening. It was great to be reconnecting spiritually with God and to be able to share it with each other and all our new friends was even better. It felt really nice to know that everyone was there for all the same reasons. When we were there though, there was something that struck me deeper about Monserrat: it’s location. Right on the top of an amazingly high mountain sits this little village. Looking out from the walkway on the way to and from the hall, you feel like you can see the whole world! No picture or image can do justice the sight you see from this place. I think I loved everything about Monserrat, including the spiritual atmosphere. I loved meeting all these people, they personally made my trip what it was. But whether in Barcelona, Monserrat or Madrid, this trip has been the most amazing experience of my life. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been a part of this pilgrimage, along with all the other beautiful girls. The memories and friendships I’ve made will stay with me forever, I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
Christiane xoxo

WYD Mass and Vigil

The extent of our disappointment over the last two days is indescribable. Excitement was rushing as we headed out Saturday night towards the Vigil, so to get so close then to have to walk away crushed us. We were thankful that at least we had a bed to go back to that night, unlike so many other pilgrims. We were determined to at least make it to the mass the next day so we left by 5 the next morning to get in the gate, to our great disappointment we were once again turned away. It was very upsetting to miss such a main event of WYD but we tried our best and there wasn’t anything else we could do. Instead we were able to spend the rest of the day sleeping, packing and hanging out together which was very enjoyable. We all shared dinner tonight as a whole group, which was really nice as we got to dress up in the new clothes we had bought and share our experiences with each other. Even though this hasn’t been the best end to our trip, there have been so many wonderful times we have had together over the last three weeks and those are the many memories that will stick with us forever.

We plan on posting once more, when we get home, so that we can each share with you our favorite memory from this pilgrimage.

We’ll see you in a few days!

Friday 19th :)

We started the morning at another catechesis session. We travelled on a few trains and got a bit lost but ended up in a beautiful area of Madrid filled with narrow streets and elaborate fountains and, of course, hundreds of pilgrims. We went to a chapel which was quite plain on the outside, but the inside was covered in bright artworks and statues carved into the stone and covered in gold. We listened to a controversial talk about abortion and the audience had the chance to ask questions. We also bumped into a school that we know from Sydney so we saw a few familiar faces which was nice. After the talk was over we had mass then started the long journey to the stations of the cross. We got there reasonably early about two hours before it was due to begin and got a nice spot in front of a giant screen to watch, but as the time got closer more and more people started crowding in until the point that we couldn’t see much anymore. But when the pope drove past about 400 people away, I jumped up and saw the top of the popemobile skim past so it was all worth it! After that we made another long and crowded journey back to the hotel. We got back around 11 and sat up and talked a little, as the meeting time for the next day wasn’t until 11. Even though it takes around two hours to get everywhere it’s all worth it to be amongst people from all over the world united in one purpose. The atmosphere is electric.

By savannah 🙂

Adios Montserrat – Hola Madrid!

Monday began with our last goodbyes to Monserrat and an 8 hour bus ride to Madrid with all the IBYC participants. We compacted into our cosy gymnasium along with about 700 other people, then called it a night, trying to sleep over the noise and lights!

Tuesday marked the beginning of World Youth Week and started with the Australian Gathering. Our Indigenous Girls made us proud with their performance and two of us read. It was amazing to hear Aussie accents again, we were worried we’d lost our own! We made our way down to the Opening Mass, five hours early to get a good spot. It wasn’t boring at all, we made friends and took photos with all different nationalities, swapping our souvenirs. Let’s just say it was an eventful night and we can explain the details later.
We made our way to our cosy gym and tried to get some more sleep.

Wednesday was hectic. We went to the supermarket and the girls requested bananas (they were 99cents!)
after mingling with people from… Everywhere, every country you can think of (except Jamaica, to the disappointment of Ashley and Gabby, who have adopted the Jamaican accent as their own), we went down to the Australian concert in the park. After an interesting toilet stop, after watching the French invade a fountain in desperation for a refreshing water,we took the train to an awesome Fr. Rob Gallea concert outside the city. We all rocked out to ‘God does not make Rubbish’ and had an amazing time. That night is one we will never forget. We rushed to the bus, that we missed, caught another that didn’t go where we wanted, caught another that was closer but we still had to run back to the gym, not before Gabby tripped over wire on a roundabout (who puts wire on a roundabout?!), in order to get back to the Gym before lock out. It was very interesting and we all ran on adrenaline. It was crazy. The purpose was so we could move to our new hotels because of complications. We packed in five minutes and Steph and Collette were very impressed with our speed (and desperation).
It was a fantastic day and one we will never forget, we were honestly so proud of each other.

By Gabby and Bridget

Thursday was a really good day. After having private showers and a nice bed to sleep in we were all excited for the day. We started the day with catechesis which was amazing, then we decided to stay in the arena for more talks. With this decision we ran into the Canadians. We also went to a talk about chastity which was really inspiring and we also went to the discussion about theology of the body, where nearly everyone fell asleep except for Daniella, Gabby, Steph and Collette. We then got some gelato, which was the best we have ever had while in Spain. After all the talks and meeting up we went to a reggae concert …. and everyone agrees that it was AWESOME. We met up with some of the other groups and we even saw the Austrians which was really cool. After the concert we got McDonalds … the first time in Spain … It was the same but it had a weird taste to it. After doing so much we took 3 trains back …. And we ran into Sister Meg and Monica … while the teachers were having a meeting us girls had a nice walk/run around the sprinkler fountain where most of us got a bit wet. One thing we all learnt from today was that I AM WORTH WAITING FOR!!

By Dani.

IBYC -Sunday

Sunday 14th, finally a more relaxed day.
After a not as early start, we went down to breakfast. We then had a presentation from Father Abbott Christopher and Nick and Beau from Worth Abbey, England. It was about the social media and how it is such a part of our lives today and also how it could be incorporated in to the Catholic Church, it was very interesting.
After a brief break, we had Sunday Mass in the Abbey Church along with the general public, about 700 people all up. Even though the mass was in Spanish, it was beautiful and incredible to have such a community gathered in one place for our Lord.
We then had lunch followed by a long break. A lot of people took advantage of the time to have a Siesta whereas some went and watched the soccer, sorry, football. This time, the Guatemalans crushed the Chilean’s, not that they will ever admit it 🙂
After a relaxing break, we had our last Lectio session and then went up to the the Abbey for Vespers. To be honest, it was slightly eerie listening to the monks chant the psalms but also extremely calming. We also had a chance to go up and touch/visit the Black Madonna.
We spent the night packing and preparing for our early start in the morning, chanting the Jesus chant with the Monks whilst hanging out of our windows, taking advantage of the cool breeze and beautiful views for our last night.

Night!
Meaghan and Bridget


IBYC – Saturday

Saturday the 13th…. A tiring day to remember forever! We started our day with 7:30 mass in Spanish, followed by breakfast the morning prayers. We were given the opportunity to go on a long or short walk, holy cave or Sant Jeroni. Majority of us chose to challenge ourselves and take the long walk by half way through we all much regretted it but when we reached the top it was so worth it! The walk was extremely challenging, so it wasn’t encouraging to watch the ex-students RUN up.
6500 steps later, we reached the top. What a view, it was totally exhilarating. We didn’t even know how to explain it to ourselves, all we could say was wow! Another game of footy was played in the afternoon before rehearsal for our performance at cultural evening. As one of the first countries to preform we did a good job at making a fool of ourselves.
Our indigenous girls performed some traditional dances and made us very proud before the rest of us got up and sang a medley of traditional Aussie songs with a lot of laughter and energy. After warming the crowd up, it was a very energetic night, the Germans and Austrians followed with a sing a long, the Brazilians and Chileans followed with traditional dances, as did the Koreans and Philippines.
By the end of the night, the Aussies had made themselves known and we were very loved among everyone. Everyone went to bed on a high and we all had the Chilean Chant ringing in our heads, after spending hours with our heads hanging out of our bedroom windows.
Chi Chi Chi, Le Le Le, Viva Chile!
Meaghan

IBYC

Hola familia,

Well, what a day it has been! Today, after our morning mass, we sat and had breakfast with a range of nationalities. So far, I think we are up to about 10 countries: Germany, Spain, Canada, Philippines, Austria, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, England and a few others. The diversity of cultures, each with their own individual faith in God, has blown us away.
After breakfast we went to the Conference Room and listened to presentations from the other schools about the Benedictine tradition in their country, it was very interesting and very long. After a short presentation on the relationship between pilgrims, St Ignatius and Montserrat, we went and had lunch.
We then split into our Deanery groups. Each group had a wide range of nationalities and it was amazing hearing, for example, the Chileans, Brazilians and the Guatemalans have a conversation when they each speak a variation of language, originating from Spanish!

We then had the opportunity to participate in various workshops including a tour of Escalonia de Montserrat, how monks live, tai chi and Christian meditation, and leadership. As we had met past students the day before, most of us chose the tour. The school was beautiful and some students even played for us!

After Lectio Davina, run by the chileans in our deanery groups, we had free time. Most of us went down to the school hall to watch various countries play soccer, sorry, football. It was such a great atmosphere and I’m pretty sure that Chile won, despite Brazil’s best efforts.

After dinner, we went to the Abbey Church for a vigil. It was so indescribably peaceful and calming, we all loved it. We can’t explain what it felt like to be a part of the vigil, you had to be there.
It was such an amazing day. We all feel so blessed to be a part of a big catholic community, to belong to this big family, it’s beautiful.

Meaghan and Bridget

Buenos Tardes from Montserrat!

Well, where do we begin?! Today, after a slightly later start, we left our beautiful hotel for good and took a bus to Montserrat. After taking hundreds of photos of the incredible view on the hour and half climb up the mountain, we arrived. The view was beyond anything we could’ve imagined and we were all breath taken.

After a small introduction, we made our way down to lunch and made our first International friends (from Spain!) We then split into our groups and we were free to explore. Our group decided we wanted to go further up the mountain, so we took the Furnicular (like a train) up the mountain to the top. After a little more climbing on foot we reached the highest point (that Miss Bond would let us reach). The views were truly spectacular, and we have the hundreds of photo’s to prove it, though we argue they don’t do it justice. It was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen and totally worth the climb up.
We then made our way to the Basilica, where had time to reflect on the journey we’ve made so far. The church was truly gorgeous.

After our free time, we made our way to dinner with the other pilgrims from around the world. The languages flying around the dining room were incredible and we made more friends (from Austria)!! Must admit, trying to get pass the language barrier and communicate was really tricky but I think we made sense in the end.

After an official introduction to the International Benedictine Youth Congress, where our Indigenous girls performed a dance in remembrance of the previous IBYC, we had night prayers, sung and said in different languages.
Now as we get ready for bed, we are listening to people sing in the courtyard below. All around us we can see other nationalities, flags hanging from our windows and people yelling ‘Hola’ across the hall to complete strangers. This time of our pilgrimage is going to be so memorable and we are all so open to any opportunity.

Buenos Noches from Bridget

Hola Figueres!

Today we started our morning with a mini amazing race between the three groups to get to the main station in Barcelona (Barcelona Sants). To get there we walked a little and took a few very hot and crowded subways. After Collette and Steph’s group won by far we all got onto a regional train for a two hour trip to Figueres.

When we arrived we found a nice fast food shop to get a quick lunch then enjoyed it in the lovely sun! We then joined the enormous line to get in to Salvador Dali museum. A nice gelati helped us from melting in the sun. We came across a busker who, as we were from Australia, dedicated us a song, he sung Alleluia with his guitar for us.

When we finally got inside the building we were blown away by the amazing, surreal artwork! We wandered through the huge museum in complete awe! There was artwork in every corner of every room, and down every hallway, we couldn’t believe how he physically created so much in his lifetime!

We then cruised around the beautiful village looking in a few shops before heading back to the station for another long trip home.

Once we arrived back in Barcelona we had a browse through a few shops before grabbing a quick dinner and heading back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group. We had the opportunity to share highlights of our time in Barcelona, it was lovely to hear what the other groups have been up to.

Tomorrow we head off to Montserrat. We’re really excited to explore this 7th century Abbey which is a famous pilgrimage site. We’re also looking forward to meeting young people from Benedictine schools around the world at the IBYC.

We may not have good reception up in the mountains so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from us for a few days. We’ll post again when we can!

Meaghan and Andy

Hola everyone!

After a much needed a sleep and a beautiful breakfast at the hotel, we started day 3. The plan was to catch a tour bus around Barcelona and visit La Sagrada Familia (the sacred family), a famous church, lunch, dinner and a flamenco show at the local theatre before bed.

The Church was absolutely beautiful. No words can explain how amazing it was. The tall towers, sculptures, the architecture, statues, even the lighting was built in extreme detail and everything in the church (the placement and colours of the pillars included) had a symbol behind it. Gaudi, the architect who built the church, spent 40 years of his life on it and died before it was completed. The church is still being built with the help of donations.

Next stop was a quick lunch. We stopped at a local cafe where we bought some salads and rolls and ate them in the park located opposite the church. This small lunch was worked off during an extremely long walk to one of Gaudi’s apartments. However, once we reached it we got distracted by gelati and agreed that a different bus tour to explore another part of the city would be less tiring than standing in line to see the apartment.

By the time the second bus tour was over it was getting late and everyone was hungry again. In our groups we headed off for dinner. Mine chose a lovely restaurant close to our hotel where we feasted on chicken or seafood paellas, baked fish, Mediterranean pasta and sausages.

There was about 30 minutes after dinner for a bit of shopping before the show started. I have never seen anyone run and look through as many clothes as we did in those few minutes. It was absolutely hilarious watching our desperation to shop. And for 30 minutes of rushed shopping, I’d have to say it was quite successful.

At 9pm everyone gathered around the theatre for the flamenco show. No photography was allowed so you have to trust me when I say it was amazing. The intensity of the dancing, the costumes and the music was the highlight of our night.

The show finished at around 10:30 and by the end of it a few of us were slowly dozing off due to the tiring day and relaxing music. We walked back to the hotel through a still lively and crowded city. A tipsy Spanish lady did stop us asking for money and free hugs but we were protected by Miss Bond.

Off to a small village, Figueres, on the outskirts of Spain near the French border, to visit Salvador Dali’s museum tomorrow.

Adios!
Melissa.