An e-mail from Sydney, Australia:
Thanks for your article on World Youth Day. It really was an amazing time for both the city and the visitors.
We did our bit with four French youngsters staying with us and that was a great experience for our children on many levels.
A lot of people at my work were surprised and curious about why we had taken four strangers into our home. It is kind of odd how those who the most socially concerned and active – I think you know who I am talking about here – would never think of doing something as basically helpful as putting strangers up and feeding them.
My other observation on the week here was how unprepared I was for it, given my own cynicism, even though we were hosting pilgrims in our home! I really thought that in today’s modern secular society that mass public displays of Christian religious commitment were a thing of the past. How glad I am that I was wrong.
It was truly inspiring to find hundreds of thousands of joyful young people in the streets of our city, who had travelled from across the globe for the purpose of celebrating and furthering their commitment to the Catholic faith.
It was not just inspiring to me as a 45 year old, but to young people throughout Sydney.
To those who are Catholics, they were reminded of the millions of young people throughout the world, who shared their faith. To those who aren’t, it would have been the first time that they would have seen hundreds of thousands of happy normal young people with a religious affiliation.
In a secular society, the public demonstration to young people of a path that you can follow from which people like themselves can derive such patent joy and satisfaction is truly the blessing that World Youth Day grants to the city and country that hosts it.