The Salesian pilgrimage group visiting Italy for a Salesian Pilgrimage and Spain for WYD in August has come home. The older-age group of the Salesian WYD Pilgrimage arrived back at Melbourne airport about mid-day on Sunday 28th August. They were welcome by their loved ones and friends. The younger-age group, students from many Salesian schools with their teachers, came back four days earlier.
The pilgrimage began earlier in August in Italy: visiting the Vatican and many historical sites in Rome for four days. Staying at a convent near the centre of Rome helped the pilgrimage group to have easier access to many major sites in Rome.
The pilgrimage group then took a train up to Turin to see the origins of Don Bosco and the Salesian works. The group spent a few days at Valdocco, the place where Don Bosco started his work with disadvantaged youth. On August 14th, the group went up to Colle Don Bosco to see the birth place of the saint. The highlights of the day were having lunch at Mamma Margarita Restaurant and celebrating Mass at the church.
The pilgrimage group flew across to Madrid in Spain for World Youth Day on 15th August. The weather was pretty hot in Madrid. Yet, the atmosphere was amazing seeing youth from all over the world so happy about witnessing their Catholic faith.
A highlight of the week was the celebration of Salesian Day with the Rector Major and the Superior General of the Salesian Sisters. It was held at a Salesian school in Madrid.
The whole pilgrimage group walked to the Vigil Celebration of WYD on 20th August. Yet, due to extreme heat and the lack of sufficient facilities, the younger-age group with their staff decided not to take part in it. They came back to their accommodation for a quiet celebration.
However, most youth from the older-age group stayed the night at WYD vigil celebrations with two millions other youth from the world and enjoyed their experience of a life time.
Tuesday 23rd was the last day at Madrid for the group and a day of reflection. The day was set in a quiet and reflective mode, and involved small and large group discussions and sharing. The reflection day was concluded by a Eucharist. The pilgrimage group had final dinner together at a nearby restaurant during which Lauren Hichaaba and Fr. Bernie were thanked for organizing this amazing trip.