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The International Marist Festival comes to an end

23/07/2008: Australia - Photo gallery

On this final day (July 13th) the young people were looking forward to welcoming the cross and the icon which had been on pilgrimage through all the dioceses of Australia. The cross that presided over the World Youth Day in Saint Peter’s in the Vatican in 1986 has travelled over the continents in preparation for World Youth Days. In 2003 John Paul II added a second symbol, an icon of Mary under the ancient invocation Salus Populi Romani. Australia has also witnessed the pilgrimage of these two symbols travelling through the parishes of the country. At their final stage, before the meeting of the young people with the Pope, the cross and the icon were received by the Marists taking part in the Festival. In a simple and moving ceremony both symbols were carried in procession to the chapel of St. Josephs College to be worshipped there.

In the afternoon, Brother Seán Sammon spoke to the young people about the meaning of the Marist family for us here and now. His words, based on personal experience, were spoken from the heart.

Seán spoke of the example of people who have changed the society around them. He mentioned the dream of Luther King, Margaret Hassan, mentioned by William Dean on the first day of the Festival in Mittagong, Dietrich Bonheoffer and Marcellin Champagnat, the young 28 year-old founder. They all worked to improve their environment. He ended his speech with a poem entitled The path that nobody takes. Later there was time for comments and questions followed by some group work for meditation and sharing what had been heard during the chat.

The closing mass began with an audiovisual which recorded the most significant landmarks of the faith in the history of salvation until today. The cross and the icon were carried by the young people to an elevated place next to the altar.

In his homily Monsignor Dowling commented on the parable of the sower whose seed fell in soil of different quality. He wanted the young people’s hearts to be good soil which would welcome the seed of the word and would produce an abundant crop.

The internationality of the assembly was reflected in the readings, the prayers and the hymns in several languages. While the assembly united in a single voice to recite the Our Father, the large screen showed the word father in the native languages of the participants.

There was a particularly emotional moment during the offertory when a boy from Cambodia, without hands or feet, came up in his wheelchair carrying around his neck the metal heart where the names of all the participants were guarded during the Festival.

During the thanksgiving there was a visual summary of all that had happened during these unforgettable days. Brother Jeff Crowe, Provincial, thanked the brothers, the technicians, the contributors and volunteers for their work which had made everything turn out so well. Sustained applause underlined the gratitude of the young people to Carole Wark for her efforts and dedication to the Festival. Brother Seán Sammon presented her with a small gift on behalf of all the participants.

With the conclusion of the International Marist Festival the moment has now come to experience intensely World Youth Day with Pope Benedict XVI.

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