Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mark McDonald - an update

After almost six years Mark McDonald has finished up with Broken Bay Youth Ministry. Mark has moved to Melbourne so that his wife can take up a new position. Mark was one of the main authors of blog posts for Broken Bay Youth Ministry and the Internship blog. In the coming months Mark will continue to blog at Mark of Faith. His Blog will cover three topics:
1. Ministry
2. Leadership
3. Faith

You can check out the latest post at www.mrmarkmcdonald.wordpress.com

You can also follow Mark on twitter @mrmarkmcdonald

Friday, September 9, 2011

Giving a presentation on WYD

So you are back from your WYD pilgrimage and you are wondering how to share this experience with others.  Well most likely you have been asked or have volunteered to give a presentation after Mass in the next few weeks.  Whilst some of you might not be a great public speaker, people want to hear about your experience so here are a few tips for your presentation:

1. Who you were before WYD pilgrimage: you may only get five minutes to give your presentation so everything has to be really tight.  Instead of a long introduction about who you are and what you do, use your introduction to share what you were like before you went to WYD.  For example "before WYD I was a uni student who knew I was Catholic but never understood why I was Catholic, hello my name is ..... and I want to share some my WYD experience with you today".

2. List of some of the places you visited: some people want give an in depth analysis of every place they visited but this is very boring for the audience.  You can give a simple list of the places that you visited to give the audience a quick overview or context for the pilgrimage.  This will really help set up the next part of your presentation if you use a bridging phrase such as "and now I wish to share a highlight from one of these towns"

3. Share one touching story: Again you don't have time to tell everything about you pilgrimage so give one (only one) really good account of why the pilgrimage was so valuable.  
  • Tell a story about one location that you visited that "changed your life".  
  • Or tell a story about one event that really touched you and why. 
  • Or tell one story that highlights the sense of community on pilgrimage
  • Or tell one story that explains the spiritual enlightenment you experienced on pilgrimage.
4. How have you changed because of the Pilgrimage: people want to know the effect of the WYD pilgrimage, so share how you have changed your perspective of life, spirituality, church or vocation because of the pilgrimage.  This could come out of the previous section of your talk.  Every talk should finish strongly and the most powerful finish is to share how you have changed.  

Whilst four sections doesn't sound like a lot if you only have five minutes then this is enough.  Here are a few things to remember in your presentation:

  • Don't say you are not a good public speaker - people will know you are not a expert public speaker but they want to hear from a confident person.  Don't loose the audience by beginning with a comment about how you are nervous or you don't normally speak in public.
  • Begin with confidence - you have the power of the Holy Spirit with you; so begin with the confidence that you have a great story to share.
  • Look at the entire audience - don't just look at the piece of paper in front of you.  Engage the audience by looking at them.  Look from left to right, from the front row to the back row.
  • Watch the clock; keep to the time - it is the role of the speaker to stick to the allotted time, not for someone in the audience to ask you to wrap it up.  If you have been given five minutes then stick to the five minutes.
  • Finish well and people will remember what you said.
  • Use the screens wisely - the best way to use the screens in the church is to show only one or two photos while you talk; a revolving slide show or video will distract the audience from what you are saying.  The best tip is to put the slideshow on before mass or before you speak rather than during your talk.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The evangelisation opportunity of Zara

Those of us that travelled to Madrid for WYD had a great time.  Whilst we were there for the World Youth Day experience, no one can deny the amazing shopping available in Madrid.  Perhaps you came home with one or two items, perhaps you came home with one of two extra kilos. Now before you go hiding those clothes away because you were meant to be there for WYD, did you ever think about the evangelisation opportunity that these new clothes or shoes will provide you?

Recently I was wearing a jacket that I had bought at Zara in Madrid when someone commented about how nice the jacket was.  When I told them that I picked it up in Madrid they then asked me about what I was doing in Madrid.  At this point I was able to begin a conversation with someone about WYD and my experience of God that I would never have been able to raise if it wasn't for the jacket.  

So when you wear the clothes or shoes that you picked up in Madrid wear them with pride because they may provide you with an opportunity to evangelise.  The trick is not to become an evangelist of Zara but to use the clothes to talk about WYD.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Esta es la juventud la Papa!

We are the youth of the Pope!

Esta es la juventud la Papa!

This is what is being chanted all around Madrid!
We prepare today to walk many kms with our sleeping bags and ground mats and to sleep tonight under the stars in order to share mass with Pope Benedict XVI and representatives from all over the world. We are staying in a university about half an hour from Madrid near a station called Moncloa. We have been so blessed with our accommodation which amongst other luxuries has a pool and a much needed air conditioning especially after a long day in the heat of the Madrid Summer. Praise God!

Some of the highlights of the World Youth Day week in Madrid have included seeing our very own Broken Bay pilgrims from Pittwater parish perform in the Park of Retiro. They made us so proud as they lead approx 300 people in praise and worship. They have also asked to play at the vigil mass and we can’t wait to see them perform again!

Catechesis has also been a real highlight in Madrid, there is a stadium which has been named the Life and Love Centre for World Youth Day and it is the home for English speaking pilgrims so we have usually travelled to the metro station Goya to get to the Love and Life Centre and we are joined there with Americans, Irish, English, Canadians and more to hear some of the best Catechesis from Bishops all over the world.

We felt proud to see Cardinal Pell lead the catechesis early on in the week and he emphasised that our faith is reasonable and rationale, he finished to a standing ovation and then celebrated the mass for us and gave a brilliant homily. Yesterday we heard from Archbishop Timothy Dolan from New York City and he was very entertaining as well as encouraging. He told us to be a witness in the world and highlighted four main ways to do this, through Charity, Joy, Hope and Love for the Church.

On Thursday we decided to journey to a Church in Madrid for a bit of variety instead of going to the Love and Life Centre for catechesis and we were turned away because the Church was overflowing with pilgrims and was too hot inside for anyone else. So instead of being disheartened Adrian Gomez, and Fr Jim led us to a nearby park and we had our own catechesis, it was totally unplanned but so amazing. It was a real act of the Holy Spirit as Bishop David gave a teaching off the cuff about how we are called to be mature in our faith and know our faith. We sang songs and a stranger handed Adrian a guitar. The crowd in the park started to grow. The organisers of the catechesis that was full started sending pilgrims to the park because word got out that an “Aussie group” was leading their own catechesis, in the end we had an American seminarian talk to us, Bishop David addressed the crowd and a Monsignor with an English accent who was living in Germany spoke to us and shared his thoughts about World Youth Day and how inspiring it is for both him and all the Bishops and Priests to see the future. Youth Minister Laura Bradley also gave a testimony about an answer she had to prayer on her travels to Mexico. We then sang this little light of mine and we realised people from South Africa, Indonesia, USA, Ireland, and more had all gathered to listen to a on the spot catechesis run by the Broken Bay Diocese.

It has been a great and spiritual week!
Blessed be the name of Jesus...Now and Forever!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 4

Monday 8th of August

"A person who governs his passions is the master of the world. We must either rule them, or be ruled by them. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil."~ St. Dominic

Olla! Many apologies for the lack of blog posts we have found Spanish wifi (or wee fee) as the Spanish pronounce it, to be temperamental. So here is what has happened so far.

On Monday 8th of August we went to Caleruega which is the birthplace of Saint Dominic. We visited the church where Saint Dominic was baptized which is called San Sebastian. The churches here are so beautiful and we celebrated mass with the Benedictine monks who are famous for their Gregorian chant. This was a moving experience and in the atmosphere of a beautiful church, with incredible acoustics and that is hundreds of years old it was a moment that will not be forgotten. Typical of Benedictine hospitality we were warmly welcomed and shown around their church and monastery, this too was full of history, artwork and beauty. We swamped their gift shop at the end of the trip all wanting to take something from this place that we had connected with.

In free time many of us climbed a hill in Santo Domingo, which has a beautiful statue of our lady overlooking the town. It was an effort to get to the top of the hill but well worth the climb which offered panoramic views of the Spanish mountains and the town. We were all sorry to leave this small town but on we went to our next stop Astorga.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Going beyond ...

On arrival in Segovia everyone was struck by the amazing aqueduct that dominates the landscape. As we wander backwards and forwards from the hotel to the town, the view is simple amazing. Yet the landscape offers an amazing image for the journey that all pilgrims are now on, that of going beyond tourism.

Today in his afternoon talk Bishop David shared how St John of the Cross wrote about the first barrier, that of stopping doing what we don't want to do in order to do the things we want to do. The image Bishop David used was that of going beyond the mountains to discover what is on the other side. We are all faced with the challenge of moving beyond what we normally do to see what is beyond.

On pilgrimage, this is about going beyond being a tourist to become a pilgrim. Today as we toured the main castle, or Alcazar, we were treated like tourists. We were given dates and facts about the building and the royalty that lived there. The challenge is to move out of this into the spiritual journey that God is taking us on. So after an afternoon of being a tourist, we can remain tired or we can focus on the insights of our Bishop that take us deeper.

The town of Segovia is surrounded by hills that block the view to the towns beyond. The people of ancient Segovia would have to leave the safety of their Alcazar to see what was beyond what they knew. Whilst on pilgrimage tourist activity can also block the view to the spiritual beyond the day in a new town. As pilgrims we must go beyond the safety of our normal relationship with God to travel to a relationship that we can't see. If we have the courage to go beyond then we will receive the benefits that pilgrims receive that tourist can't even imagine.

Saints and Mystic - Day 3

Day three of the pilgrimage started for some with optional morning prayer at 7.30 lead by Fr. Jim we had a great group turn out especially considering many of us were still feeling the effects of the journey from Sydney. We found a beautiful hillside with a view of Segovia for our morning prayer, we sang, we meditated and we absorbed the sounds of this amazing Spanish city which was built one hundred years before Christ.

After breakfast (which in Spain includes ham and cheese), we went for mass at Vera Cruz Church and the tomb of the great mystic St John of the Cross. The mass was a real highlight and to be in the presence of the remains of such a famous saint was an emotional and powerful experience. Bishop David talked to us about the teaching of St John of the Cross and his quote "If you do not learn to deny yourself you cannot make progress in Christian perfection," which we later reflected on in our small groups.

After appliying another layer of sunscreen we toured Segovia with our tour guide (did we mention this town has an acueduct, a fortified castle, and a templar knights church!) we were impressed to say the least.

We felt like kings and queens with the visit to Alcazar castle and our tour guide pointed out that the mountains looked like a woman sleeping, which could have been the inspiration for the story of sleeping beauty with the castle the perfect setting for such a fairytale.

After free time for shopping and lunch we came back to the hotel aqueduct for dinner and night prayer where we reflected on St John of the cross' concept of the dark night.

We have an early start tomorrow with optional morning prayer at 6.45am so enough blogging we are off to bed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Going rather than getting

Ken Duncan, a famous Australian photographer, once said that some of his best photos were taken on the way to where he thought the best photograph would be. He said that he would often be headed to a particular location to frame a photograph when "out of the blue" another great opportunity for a photo would present itself. Ken even said that some of his family holidays never made it to their original destination because of the great "interruptions" along the way. Ken travels with the camera at the ready looking for inspiration.

The same can be true when on pilgrimage. Sometime we think that God will speak to us at a specific event that we are trying to get to. Yet it is often something that seems like an interruption that God uses to stir something in our heart. We are so focused on the big events of our lives that we often overlook the hundreds of smaller opportunities that present themselves every day to get to know God better.

In his homily at the Pilgrims Commissioning Mass, Bishop David spoke about going on pilgrimage rather than getting to your destination. He shared his experience of getting to the tomb of St James on a tourist bus. He had arrived at the destination as a tourist where as those who arrived as walking pilgrims gained so much more because of going on pilgrimage. Bishop David encouraged all the WYD pilgrims to see that it more about going With God than getting to the destination.

So really the pilgrimage has already begun. The moment that you said you are going to World Youth Day was the beginning of your pilgrimage. For some of us that was three years ago at WYD08 in Sydney. For others your pilgrimage may only be a recent journey. Either way the journey of going on pilgrimage has already started and therefore maybe God is already talking to you. Please don't overlook the journey you already on just because you haven't begun the journey of getting to WYD.

Perhaps you might recognize this sense of already going on pilgrimage by writing journal entries now. What do you feel God is saying to you? What is stirring in your heart about going on pilgrimage? How are you feeling about going deeper with God? Are you planted in Christ, are you being built up by Christ? Are you firming in the faith?

Please leave a comment about how you are feeling about going on this pilgrimage with God.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

See you at the Airport

Last night was our Commissioning Mass for our WYD pilgrims. Given that this was the last time that we would see many of the pilgrims before the airport, I finished many conversations with "see you at the airport". Many WYD pilgrims will be traveling overseas for the first time and so it might be important to look at a few basics about international airports.

Whilst there are many travel tips we could give you, the most important travel tip is about time. Here a four issues that you need to know about time when traveling overseas:
  1. 24 hour time: when you travel across time zones it is hard to juggle between am and pm so airlines use 24 hour time. A 3:15pm departure time would be 1515hrs. The afternoon times are 12 plus what the "pm" time is. So 3:15pm is 3:15 + 12 = 15:15. In 24 time it is always listed as "hundred hours" so it make it 1515hrs.
  2. Check in time: when you are checking into an international flight they advise people to check in 3 hours ahead of departure time, which we get to shortly. This means that you should aim to be at the check in desk three hours before your flight time. Sometimes the check in desk is open four hours before the flight but many check in desks close 60-90 minutes before departure time, so don't be late.
  3. Boarding time: some people miss their flights because they keep thinking about departure time, not boarding time. Boarding time is the time that the airline will ask you to board the aircraft so that it can depart at the correct time. Boarding will begin about 40 minutes before the departure time. If you are seated at the back of the plan you will board first. Some airlines board the back of the plane earlier so watch the TV screens around the airport for the boarding call. Please be aware that boarding will close well before departure time. Once the boarding has closed, the TV screens will display "gate closed" for the boarding gate.
  4. Departure time: this is the time the aircraft will depart the airport. If things are going well the aircraft will depart the terminal or gate on time so that it make it's take off window. If a few passengers have held up the flight then the departure time will be later, but don't count on it.
The importance of time is remembering which time you are meant to follow, is it check in time, boarding time or departure time. Getting your times wrong could be a very expensive exercise for the international pilgrim.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Daily Scripture reading

Pope Benedict in his Post Synod Exhortation said that the Word of God should be at the heart of every ecclesial activity.  Meaning that we should read, reflect, ponder, meditate and soak in the Word of God every day.  The best way to do this is to read the Bible/Scriptures every day.  Whilst some of us may be familiar with this style of daily devotion, it is not something that all of us are used to.  

In a previous post we looked at Good habits on a WYD pilgrimage.  Perhaps daily scripture could be one of the new habits that you pick up on your WYD pilgrimage.  However when most people start reading their bible they play a game of "flick to a random page and read".  Perhaps you need to be a little more planned that than.  Pick a book of the bible and work your way through it a chapter per day.  The book of Acts is a great place to start as you read about the birth of the early Church.

After reading the Chapter of the Bible here is a simple tool to process what you have read:

  1. Scripture: read the scripture through once more
  2. Observation: highlight the things that strike you, the elements that speak to you.  What words jump out to you as you read?  What links can you make with other scripture passages.
  3. Application: what does this passage mean for your life at the moment?  Ask God "what are you saying to me through this passage of scripture".  Write down any areas in life where this passage could strengthen you.
  4. Prayer: turn the experience into a prayer, perhaps ask for the courage to implement what you just read. This final step is important or else it can just been a task that you "get done" in your day.  The prayer element turns the word on the page to the "Words of God".
You will notice that these four steps make the word SOAP.  It is an easy formula to remember each day.  Perhaps you can start by writing your reflections in your journal and soon you will be able to do the entire exercise as a prayer with writing it down.

What is your daily reading advice?  Leave a comment about where you encourage people to begin their daily reading or perhaps share a favourite passage with our readers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Aussie gifts for WYD hosts

Many WYD pilgrims will be buying a few gifts to give away at WYD. Whilst many cheap gifts are made in china, it is possible to give away something made in Australia. Perhaps it might not be possible to buy cheap give aways that are made in Australia but if you are giving away one special present to a host parish or home stay family consider buying Australian made.

Australia Geographic stores have a great range of Australian made products. They have hand made leather items that look like Australian animals. They have a range of books that might make a good coffee table book. They have a selection of wood products but they might be difficult to get into another country. They also have a range of aboriginal art works that have the artists details on the back.

Be careful about what you purchase that looks like aboriginal artwork. It is important that any art work you buy has come from an Australian source. It may not hand made, it may be a mass produced piece that gives royalties to the artist. It wouldn't be appropriate to give away fake aboriginal artwork mass produced in china.

Do you have any advice on where to buy good Australian gifts? What will you be taking overseas to give away? please leave a comment so that you can help other pilgrims.

Check in Tomorrow, we will do a post on the rules of pin trading.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don't forget the Radio

It was a small $10 radio that saved our WYD 2000 experience.  Our group was miles, literally, from the altar at the final Mass of WYD 2000 in Rome.  We walked for 30 minutes towards the main stage and we weren't even close to the stage.  We had no direct view of any large screens and JPII was a small white dot on the horizon.  We only knew that the Pope had arrived when the crowd cheered "JPII, we love you".

It was a small $10 radio that helped us to pick up the sound system at the main WYD events.  We were able to participate in all the events and hear the Pope's address.  The other advantage of the radio was that we could receive the english translation of the main events which were in Italian. 

In 2011 the humble radio has almost become an antique with iPhones and iPods ruling the music world. Yet this simple technology, old school, could make all the difference to hearing or not hearing the main events.  So my advice is to head to your local electronic store and spend a small amount of money on a small AM/FM radio.  This will help you to participate in the main liturgies and events at WYD. 

If you are feeling really generous then perhaps you could splash out on a small pair of speakers so that you can share the sound with the people around you rather than having to all plug the ear phones in.  Perhaps you can team up with someone, they can buy/carry the radio and you can buy/carry the speakers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Group Photos whilst at WYD

In the other day, when cameras only had film, everyone wanted the group photo to be taken with their camera.  So a group would line up for a group shot and then someone would take about 30 photos on 30 different cameras.  People wanted the group shot on their camera so that they had a copy of the group shot when they got home.

You would think that the invention of the digital camera would have changed all of this, because people can share a file electronically.  Yet you still experience the line of cameras for group shots even though every camera is digital.  It is much simpler to have one person take all the group shots and load them to a central location for others to access.  Before you start you pilgrimage make plan for this so that you have it ready when group shots start.  Have a group Picasa account or Flickr account to load all the photos to.

Broken Bay pilgrim gift bags

Check out the contents of the Broken Bay pilgrim gift bags.

If you are joining the Diocese of Broken Bay for the Saints and Mystics pilgrimage then you will recieve this gift bag at our Commissioning Mass.  If you are not traveling with the Diocese then have you packed these items for yourself:
  1. Water bottle - you will be drinking so much water at WYD that you need a water bottle that you can refill as you need to.
  2. Hat - it doesn't have to look cool it just has to keep the sun off you from all different angles.
  3. Swap Pins - you might not be into swapping pins back home but it is a great bridge builder at WYD to be able swap pins with someone.  Take a mix of pins with you, kangaroos are a well loved pin.
  4. WYD Journal - this is a great way to capture your thoughts as you travel.
  5. Bag tags - there are so many occasions where your bag will be one of many so have a bag tag that you can recognise.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Five awards to give out on Pilgrimage

"The Oscar for best actor in a movie goes to ...."  The Oscars is one award ceremony that many people watch because they know the actors receiving the awards, at least we have seen their movies.  Yet on a WYD pilgrimage we don't want to give out awards for acting, we want people to be real.  So it got me thinking about the types of behaviour that should be rewarded on a WYD pilgrimage. 

Here are the top five awards for roles on a WYD pilgrimage:
  1. The Gracious person: this award is given to the person that shows the most Grace.  It is the person who is able to take any situation and show how God was using that situation to talk to people.  It is the person who response to others in a way that reflects how God would treat people.  This award should be given with honour to the person who shows the Grace of God in everything they do.
  2. The Affirming person: this award is given to the person who is always building others up.  It is the person who is encouraging others to keep going when they feel like giving up.  It is the person who always notices the good qualities rather than what went wrong.  It is the person who says "that's what I like about you".  This award should be given with honour to the person who shows others how much God loves them.
  3. The Humble servant: this award is given to the person who is always putting the needs of the group before their own.  It for the person who helps clean up the meals area when everyone else goes out for the day.  It is for the person who always chips in to help unload bags from the bus.  It is for the person who sees it as a privilege to serve rather than to be served..  This award should be given with honour to the person who washes the feet of others like Jesus did.
  4. The Peacemaker: this award is given to the person who is able to keep the peace in the pilgrimage group.  It is the person who can help people reconcile any differences that may arise.  It the person who can keep the mood of the group positive.  This award should be given with honour to the person who bring a group closer to God through sharing peace.
  5. The Good Samaritan: this award is given to the person who goes out of their way to make a difference to someone outside the pilgrimage group.  It is the person who helps out someone they don't know.  It is easier to be nice to your pilgrimage group than to a complete stranger.  This award should be given with honour to the person who helps the stranger.
Some people might be thinking that we shouldn't give out any awards on a pilgrimage, perhaps remember Romans 12:10 "love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour."  Others might be thinking that everyone should be able to receive all of these awards, well give out as many awards as there are people deserving.  The positive side of giving out awards is that is reminds people of the behaviour we want on pilgrimage rather than enforcing a set of rules.

Last thing to remember is that in every thing we do, the Glory goes to God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does your bank know your travelling to WYD?

Does your bank know that you are travelling to WYD?  Don't tell them so that you can get extra credit cards but so they don't cancel your current cards whilst you are overseas.  Here are a few tips about handling money whilst you are overseas:

  1. Tell you bank where you are going: many banks will shut down a credit card if the card is used in a different country to where the card was issued.  The last thing you need on your WYD pilgrimage is for your cards to be cancelled as a security measure.  Inform your local branch that you are travelling overseas so they can add it to their records.
  2. Get a travel card: whilst you might take you normal bank cards it is wise to put some money on a Cash passport travel card.  Some of the banks allow you to buy another card from them that is not linked to your account, that way if you have you travel card stolen or lost then people can't access all your other accounts.  You can usually use internet banking to add more money to you travel card.  Many travel cards save you on conversion charges too.
  3. Don't bank at an internet cafe: whilst you might link to skype back home or check emails on a computer in an internet cafe it may not be the safest option for internet banking.  It is hard to trust computers that you don't know with your banking details. If you need to use internet banking then you could borrow a computer from a friend, use a smart phone on wifi or call someone you trust at home to jump online for you.
  4. Don't use an ATM for small amounts: many ATM's overseas will charge you a usage fee and a currency conversion fee.  So it is important to take a larger sum of money less frequently rather than smaller amounts every day.  Back at home you may withdraw $20 from an ATM, but overseas that same transaction will cost you a $2.50 usage fee and a currency conversion fee.
  5. Cash:  It is helpful to have cash to pay for items at the airports while travelling.  You should take some Euros with you on the plane so that you can buy something before you get to an ATM.  If you are carrying several hundred euros then split it up amongst your wallet, your day pack and your luggage, if one gets stolen you haven't lost all your cash.
What are your travelling tips?  Could you share a story with other readers in the comment section that could help us all learn how to be safer with our money when travelling?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Writing a great WYD blog

The explosion in social networking and blogging over the last 5-10 years has added a new dimension to an overseas WYD trip.  Even at WYD05 in Cologne many pilgrims were still beginners in this field.  However in 2011 more pilgrims than ever will experiment with social networking and blogging over in Spain. Whilst we have already written about social networking (click link), it is timely to look at how to write a great WYD blog. 
When you write a magazine article about your WYD pilgrimage, you try to squash every experience into 1000 words because print space is money.  When it comes to blogging the rules all change because a blog costs you nothing to write and costs the reader nothing.  So it is important to follow these simple rules for writing a great WYD blog:
  1. Serve the reader: the difficulty with a free blog is that readers don't have any commitment to reading because they didn't pay for it.  When you buy a magazine you tend to read every article twice to get your money's worth.  A blog is about drawing the reading in by giving them what they want in bight size pieces.
  2. One event per post: Imagine writing about Tuesday 16th August in your blog.  Many people are tempted to write all of day one in a single post.  So you would have to write about the Australian gathering, your afternoon in Spain and the opening mass in the one post.  Instead write 300 words about the Australia gathering in one post, write another post about your first afternoon in Spain and a third post on the Opening mass.  When you do this, readers can focus on the events they want to know about and you will serve your readers better.  If you think this is too much writing read the next point.
  3. Keep you posts short: instead of writing a wordy essay on your experience keep each blog post short. One rule of writing is that most people won't read past 500 words, so keep it below that amount.  Instead of putting the three events into one post of 1000 words, write three posts of 300 words and readers will love it but you have only written 900 words.  Short posts also save you words you don't have to link unrelated material.
  4. Include a photo: if you want to keep you blog post short then add a picture; a picture tells a thousand words.
  5. Invite participation and comments: many readers will never identify themselves but still invite them to comment or participate.  Finish your blog post with a question that allows people to comment.  Perhaps invite people to add prayer requests to your blog.
  6. Link to other posts: to keep posts short link to other posts in your blog rather than going over the same material.  If you write well people will stay connected to your blog so don't worry about them leaving.  If you serve your readers, they will always come back.
  7. Post regularly: don't miss a day, you need to be reliable.  This blog has generated readers when it has been weekly, if we miss a week it seems to take time to get the readers back, so don't miss a day.
If you want more information about blogging, check out these two amazing articles be Michael Hyatt who has generated thousands of readers on his successful blog:
What advice could you offer about blogging?  What are you looking for in a WYD blog?  Please leave your advice in the comment section below.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Code of Conduct for WYD

Every group needs a set of rules or guidelines in order to function as a group.  Even a secular travel company will have some guidelines about how people should behaviour as a travel group.  Yet when you are on a pilgrimage there is a higher standard for the group.  Instead of a set of basic minimum behaviours the group is aiming for something higher.  The pilgrim is modelling their behaviour on Christ.
So when you travel to WYD, go above and beyond the minimum standard set in the Code of Conduct for your group.  Set you sights on Jesus.  This scripture from St Paul is a great passage to meditate on every time you struggle with the pilgrimage experience and don't behaviour how you want to.

1 Corinthians 10:23-33
The Believer’s Freedom
 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Drinking wine at lunch in Spain

If you are under 18 whilst in Spain then you won't be tasting any of the Spanish wine.  But if you are over 18 then you will have a few opportunities to taste the wines of Spain.  
Perhaps one custom that you may not be used to is drinking wine with your meal at lunch time.  It is often customary in Europe to serve wine with the lunch meal.  However one difference is the opportunity to mix it half and half with lemonade or soda water.  This will lighten the wine which is perfect for the middle of the day.  This half and half mixture is a lot nicer on a hot day that a full strength red wine.  This is possible for both the red wine (vino tinto) and the white wine (vino blanco).
The final thing to remember is that just because you host is drinking wine it doesn't mean you have to.  If you don't drink alcohol then you don't have to drink to be polite, ask for a water or a lemonade.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are you following your plan or God's? A WYD story

Sometime the best laid plans fall apart and that is what God wants.  This is a story about trusting in God rather than trusting in yourself.

In 2000, my wife and I went to WYD in Rome, a beautiful and holy city but not one that is well organised.  On the first night in Rome the bus load of pilgrims that I was traveling with was taken to our simple accommodation site in a parish in the southern part of the city.  Whilst this was the parish that we were supposed to be staying at it was already full of pilgrims and couldn't take anymore.  It was nearing midnight and the bus driver wanted to go home, so asked us to all get off the bus.  Without a place to stay the group decide not to leave the bus but to pray for a miracle that this site would find some room for us.

The group prayed for what seemed eternity that the parish would welcome us and take us in.  At this point I was frustrated and just wanted to get off the bus but I didn't want to leave the group.  My prayer was "I'll do anything just get me off this bus".  After praying so hard for the parish to take us, we received news that the parish would not take us, but there was another parish that would if the driver would take us there.  Many people in the group were disappointed that our prayer hadn't worked, we didn't get into this accommodation site.

Well after midnight the bus driver dropped us off at an accommodation site, but it was still another kilometre walk to the hall where the guys would be sleeping, and I would have to separate from my wife.  When I got to the hall everyone was packed in like sardines and I thought "God why did I promise to do anything to get off that bus?"  It was one of the worst nights sleeps that I have had in my life, an over crowded metal scout hall in the middle of the Roman summer.

The next morning the guys walked the kilometre back to where the girls were staying.  Whilst it was a good place for the girls but I thought it would be a tough week being so far from my wife.  During the morning an old lady named Concetta walked into the parish office, she heard the parish was short of beds.  She had a double bed, if two girls wanted to share, she could take two pilgrims.  My wife and I asked if she would be prepared to take a married couple, which she would, so we walked to her house.

When we arrived at her house she welcomed us into her house and gave us a cup of good Italian coffee.  For the rest of the week she got us breakfast each morning and strong Italian coffee.  She started to watch the WYD events on Roman television to see if she could see her two Australian pilgrims.  In some way she became more connected to WYD because she had two pilgrims in her house.

After a great week in her home we left for Australia.  Concetta was a great host and we were blessed to be in her house.  Concetta had made it possible for my wife and I to share WYD together rather than apart.  Three months after WYD we received an expensive book in the mail from Concetta thanking us for our visit.  She had made our WYD experience more memorable yet she said she was blessed too.

Whilst it might sound like a long stretch, but I really believe that if our prayers had worked and we did get a piece of floor in the first parish we tried, Lisa and I would never have met Concetta.  God had a plan about who we would meet and where we would stay and no tired bus driver or bus load of pilgrims could change that plan.  Sometime what we think is in our best interest is really not as good as what God has prepared.  
Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think ... to Him be the glory"

When you travel to this WYD be prepared to give up your plans so you have the opportunity to follow God's plan.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Don't "show me the money"

It is a great time to be buying euros, the currency conversion hasn't been this high in months.  So you don't want to loose those valuable euros or have them stolen so invest in a money belt.  These can be bought for $10-15 in any travel shop but look for one that is comfortable for you to wear.  Some of the money belts go around your waste but some can hang around your neck.

The most important detail which some tourists forget is that they are worn under your shirt.  You don't want anyone saying "give me all your money" because you have around your neck for everyone to see.

Another important tip is to place everything in a zip lock plastic bag before you put items into the money belt.  At WYD in Rome, everyone got so hot that the sweat made their money belts wet.  The ink on the passport or the money started to run.  Or people wanted to cool off so they poured water over their head and their passport was soaked too.  So put your passport and your spare cash in a zip lock sandwich bag then put it into your money belts and tuck it under your shirt.

Choosing the right daypack for WYD

 In a previous post we looked at the sleeping bag, this post we explore a different type of bag, the day pack.
What type of day pack could you carry all day?

When you think about a day pack it is just something that holds the essential items you need throughout your day.  Yet if you think about carrying this on your back all day this thing which seemed light in the morning can become a dead weight on your shoulders at the end of the day.  Multiply that by 20 days and you can see why the choice of daypack is crucial.

Here are a few things to think about when selecting the right daypack for your World Youth Pilgrimage:

  1. How long is your back?  nothing looks as absurd as a small person with a huge backpack or a huge person with a small packpack.  Find a day pack that is the correct length from your shoulders to your hips.
  2. How many compartments do you need?  Are you the type who needs everything to in its own spot or can you handle everything being in one compartment.  My ideal daypack has a compartment for laptop or ipad, a compartment for keys or cameras, a outside pouch for a drink bottle and one large compartment for a jacket or food for the pilgrim walk.
  3. How secure is the day pack?  when choosing your day pack for WYD remember that you will be pushing through crowds all week long, can you secure your day pack with a travel safe padlock?  The more compartments you have on the outside of the day pack, the harder it is to secure.
  4. Is your drink bottle easy to reach?  Some day packs have straps for your jacket or bike helmet but in the Spanish heat you need your water bottle more than anything.  Can you grab your water bottle without opening your bag?  Perhaps consider a day pack that can take a water bladder so you can drink on the go.
  5. Does it match your outfit?  That is a trick question, you go with function not fashion.
There are many day packs available in camping stores but the right one for you is like a good pair of shoes, the perfect fit will make all the difference. Check out the post on shoes here.

Some people are asking about the WYD pilgrim backpack, remember that you still need a day pack for the pre pilgrimage before you arrive in Madrid.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Choosing the right sleeping bag

Want the perfect sleeping bag for WYD for only $12.50?

Many pilgrims will be getting their luggage bag ready for their WYD pilgrimage, but perhaps the most important bag to pack is the sleeping bag.  You don't want to participate in the overnight vigil at WYD without one.  But how do you find the right sleeping bag to take on pilgrimage?  Here are a few things to look out for:

  1. How small is it? whilst you will have to take a sleeping bag with you to Spain, you may only need it for one or two nights if you will be sleeping in a Uni residence during WYD week.  So you are looking for an option that won't take up that much room in your luggage for the rest of the trip.
  2. How cheap is it? it would be great to invest in a sleeping bag that rolls up as small as your hand but many pilgrims are on a tight budget.  Look for the smallest sleeping bag in your price range.  You might find that a children's sleeping bag is cheaper because you can pick them up in any major retailer rather than having to go to a camping store.
  3. How warm is it?  Most of the days in Spain will hit 40 degrees so getting a sleeping bag rated for -5 degrees is overkill.  Look for a bag that goes down to 10 or 15 degrees which will save on insulation which will save you size and money.  Don't forget the overnight sleep out will get cooler but it is no Mount Everest.
And the winner is  ..... the Compass 101 made by Wild Country
This is not an endorsed sponsorship, just a recommendation from a fellow pilgrim.
I picked up a Compass 101 from Rays Outdoors for only $12.50 here are the details
  • 180cm x 75cm
  • Rated to 10 degrees
  • Polyester shell and poly cotton lining for added comfort
  • 100gsm fill weight.
As you can see from the photo at the top of the post it doesn't take up that much room in a bag and at $12.50 it definitely fits into the budget.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Who you goin' call?"

It seems that everyone carries a mobile phone with them when they go about their daily life.  Yet most of us would realise that whilst we are on a World Youth Day pilgrimage, it is not our "normal" routine.  So do you need a mobile phone on pilgrimage?  It used to be one of the joys of overseas travel that you would detach from your life back home, be out of contact for a few weeks.  The old travel saying used to be "no news is good news".  Now people get worried if they don't hear from you every few days so what should you do.  The answer lies in the question:
"who are you goin' call?"

  1. In case of emergencies - if you are going to take a phone only in case of an emergency, then a simple phone is all you need if you even need one.  If it is only for emergency then you can almost do without a phone because you use the phone of your group leader. If you want the security of your own phone you can buy a simple unlocked phone in Australia and buy a SIM from a shop in Spain.  
  2. Keeping in contact with the group - if you are taking a phone to keep in contact with your pilgrimage group and you need to call a lot, then you should think about the SIM with the lowest call costs.  You might also need a reliable system that you know works.  Travelsim is one provider that has a lower call cost that International roaming and you can set it up before you go.
  3. Calling home - if you want to keep in contact with home a mobile phone may not be the best option.  A phone home card can be linked to your home phone account and gives you calls from any public phone in Spain.  Skype is another cheap way to keep in contact with people back home.  Facebook is another cheap way to stay in contact with people back home but read this previous post to find out more.  Just stick clear of hotel phones as these can be very expensive.
  4. Don't want to call anyone - Mary Mackillop travelled to Europe without a mobile phone; so can you.  Whilst it sounds funny to phrase it like this, if you don't want to call anyone you don't need a mobile phone.  We can solve problems without having a phone so if you want teh freedom of being "offline" then don't bring a phone.  If you do take this option inform people that you are not contactable so they don't get worried.
Whilst we have become very reliant on phones back home, try going without your phone for the pilgrimage.  There is a freedom on pilgrimage when you focus on the group, not the incoming call.

If you do think you need a phone try Travel Sim combined with an unlocked phone, both of which you can get from any post office.

Last bit of advice - don't use your iPhone or smartphone.  The debt from the data charges will take months to pay off when you get back home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gifts from Harvest Pilgrimages

Each pilgrim will receive a travel wallet from Harvest Pilgrimages.  This is a great way to keep all your travel documents organised.  The wallet has a space for your passport, your etickets and your boarding pass.  It has a pen holder which is great for filling out forms whilst travelling, you need to provide your own pen.  The entire wallet is closed with a zipper so that you won't loose any documents if you drop the wallet.
Each pilgrim will receive their etickets and a Pilgrim Itinerary.  These documents will go into your travel wallet.  The etickets will outline your flights for the entire pilgrimage, you will need these to receive your boarding pass at the airport.  Your itinerary will outline the daily activities as well as listing the accommodation each night.
Each Pilgrim will receive two bag tags, one for your suitcase and one for your day pack.  As you will see from the image the tag will stand out on the luggage carousel at any airport.  It will also help you identify other pilgrims by the tag on their day pack.
Each pilgrimage group will receive a Harvest WYD tours flag.  This will enable you to find your pilgrimage group in the busy streets of the cities we will visit.  Each pilgrimage group will encounter other tours and groups of pilgrims, so it is helpful to follow the flag through the crowd rather that trying to hold hands with every pilgrim.

These are great gifts from Harvest that will help you have a better pilgrimage experience.

Monday, May 30, 2011

How will you use social networking whilst on WYD pilgrimage?

Recently I saw a number of Facebook posts from a friend that led me to have a certain view of the trip they were on.  When I spoke to this friend when they returned, they had a different opinion of the trip than that which appeared on Facebook.  When I asked them about the difference they responded “you had to be there to understand”.  The fact is I wasn’t there and I didn’t understand.

One of the hardest things about a WYD pilgrimage is knowing how to share the experience with others who aren’t with you.  With the development of social networking we have to understand how to share the pilgrimage as we travel along the pilgrimage as well as when we get home.  Here are a few tips for sharing your pilgrimage on any social network platform or blog:

  1. Stay positive:  each day has ups and downs whilst on pilgrimage yet people may not get that if you only post during the hard times.  Keep the posts or status updates positive.  If you want to share a hard experience share what you learnt from the experience instead of the negative details.
  2. Use pictures: they say a picture tells a thousand words so use pictures to share the experience.  Keep the pictures clean/suitable and ask for permission from the people in the picture.  One negative or harsh picture can do a lot of damage back home.
  3. If you “had to be there” don’t post it: people often tell funny stories from their trips overseas and end with “you had to be there”.  In reality the people back home aren’t there and may not find your experience funny.  So if you “had to be there” to understand what you are about to post then don’t post it.
  4. Spare us the details: many people back home want to stay in touch with what you are experiencing but they don’t want to read through all the fine details that even other pilgrims would find boring.  Keep your blog posts short (about 300-400 words) and focus on one event per post or status update.
  5. Under 18’s: remember that students under 18 should not have their pictures on your social networking unless you have their parents permission.  It is safer and easier to refrain from posting information about student who are on your pilgrimage and under 18.
  6. “What happens on tour …”: it is often said about rugby tours that what happens on tour stays on tour.  We hope that you will be proud of your behaviour when you get home and can share most things about yourself with everyone.  However it is important to keep the things you learn about other people confidential.  You can tell your story but let other people share their stories.  If you must share an experience that involves someone else then get their permission first.

Used correctly, social networking and blogs can help people to be able to share in the pilgrimage experience from their computer back home.  Your social networking and blogging habits can be a key part of evangelising this event.

Please post a comment

Thursday, May 26, 2011

8 uses for one piece of Material

Perhaps one of the most useful items to pack in your bag is a large piece of material.  One piece of material about 2metres by 2 metres; bigger than a towel but smaller than a bed sheet.  This could be the most practical item you in your daypack.  Here are eight uses for this piece of material:

  1. Ground sheet:  we know that there will be many venues where seats are not provided.  This piece of material could be a nice ground sheet for you and a friend.
  2. Blanket:  this won’t be the warmest blanket but we are not heading into a cold climate.  Most of us will pack for the heat and yet when it turns a bit cooler you can wrap this piece of material around you to be a little bit warmer.
  3. Sunshade: the sun will be the hardest thing to handle in the Spanish summer.  You can use this piece of material as a shade cover to reduce the risk of sunburn.
  4. Covering up in a church: you might like to wear singlets and short shorts but you won’t get into many churches.  In this situation you can use this piece of material as a dress to cover your knees or as a wrap to cover your shoulders.
  5. Cooling off: you might not be able to go for a swim so soak this material in water and damp down your neck, shoulders and forehead.
  6. Carrying things: you might visit the supermarket to buy something and they don’t sell bags, wrap the items in your piece of material like a swag.
  7. Bandage: you hope that there will be easy access to First aid but perhaps you need to stop some bleeding or bandage up a limb.
  8. Marking your turf: in a large crowd every spare centimetre of space will be taken.  Instead of saying that an area is take use your material to mark out your turf, allow room to stretch out.  This will be very helpful at the final sleep out.

You will be able to pick up a piece of material about 2 metres by 2 metres at your local material shop.  Look for a fabric that can take a bit of water, is durable and not too heavy.  Wash the piece of material before you go and you are ready for a multitude of situations.

Please leave a comment if you have another use for this piece of material.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Personal Perspective about WYD

If we look at the average mass attendance figures for young adults in the Catholic Church, about 10-20% of young adults are attending mass on a regular basis.  So if you are attending mass and are also committed to going to WYD11, that puts you in the most committed group of Catholics within your age group.  Whilst this can be a little overwhelming at times when put into perspective it can present a great opportunity to help others.

It is important to remember that your personal perspective in not that of most other Catholic's or other young adults.  You see the world and the Church in a different way, as Bishop David says, you have a unique Catholic world view.  You see the world around you through the lens of the Catholic faith you believe in.  As you prepare for the WYD pilgrimage perhaps God has blessed you with this Catholic world view so that you can be a light to the world.  When you get an understanding of your personal perspective on life, you know how different you are to others and how you can help others.

Here are three things to keep in mind when preparing for the WYD11 pilgrimage:
  1. Evangelise the message not the event - sometimes we can be so consumed with our excitement about going to WYD we forget that others don't care about WYD.  Rather than trying to get them excited by the actual event, share the message of WYD with them.  The theme of WYD is a wonderful evangelisation opportunity that everyone can join in on even if they aren't heading to Spain.  Perhaps God has blessed you with your personal perspective to strengthen you for these evangelisation opportunities.  For more check out this earlier post here
  2. Go back to the beginning yourself - sometimes we need to take a break from our perspective on life and the Church to see things from other peoples perspective.  Perhaps you need to think like someone who is beginning their walk with God so that you can understand how to support your friends who are starting off their walk with God.  One practical strategy to imagine how you would describe WYD to someone who has never heard of it.  There are people out there, even in your friendship group, who don't understand the church language you use, words like Catechesis, Cardinal and Adoration.
  3. Pray for people to know Christ - some people will never understand why you are going to spend $6000 to fly half way across the world to stand in 40 degree heat with 2 million others.  Rather than trying to change their minds simply pray that God may open their heart to a deeper relationship with Christ.  Whilst it would be nice for every young adult to experience WYD we know that can't happen, but every young adult can experience God's love.  One practical idea is to write the names of five people who don't have a relationship with Christ on a prayer card that you carry with you to WYD.
In a world where spin doctors have created an angle on every story, how can you use your journey to WYD to benefit others?  Perhaps in the coming months as we prepare to go overseas remember that God has blessed you with an amazing perspective on the World; one that not everyone shares just yet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The sweet smell of pilgrimage

Do memories have a smell?

Did you realise that your brain can record smells in your memory? Here is a quick test for you:
  1. What perfume did your mother wear?
  2. What did the home of your childhood smell like?
  3. What did your grandma's house smell like?
  4. What does the smell of moth balls remind you of?
  5. What does the smell of fresh baked bread remind you of?
Whenever I smell Brut 33 it reminds me of thursday sport when I was at school.  When I smell Lynx deodorant it reminds me of teaching in a boys school on a hot afternoon after lunch.  There are smells that can trigger a memory from your past, which is great if you want to remember something special.

So what does this have to do with WYD?  
Instead of taking your normal deodorant, perfume or after shave on pilgrimage, take a unique smell with you on pilgrimage.  Use a deodorant, perfume or aftershave that you don't normally use.  When you get home from pilgrimage don't use that smell until you want to recall the experience of pilgrimage.

Whilst this might sound unusual it does work.  On my last two trips overseas I have used a brand new smell.  I still have those bottles in my cupboard at home.  Now when I smell one of them it takes me straight back to the locations of those pilgrimages.

Why does it have to be new?
Did you know that we get use to smells we have around us all the time?  consider these:
  1. When you get into a lift with a smoker who doesn't realise the smoke still smells on them 15 minutes after they finished the cigarette.
  2. You meet a 15 year old boy who doesn't realise they stink after lunch from playing touch football on a hot summers day.
  3. A regular coffee drinker who loves the smell of coffee but it doesn't trigger any particular memory.
  4. A person who gets used to the smell of their own bedroom and doesn't notice the mouldy smell.
What do you have to loose?
Even if you think this is crazy, try it before you rule it out.  If it doesn't work then at least it reminded you to bring deodorant on pilgrimage and we will all be thankful for that.  If it does work you have a way of recalling the sweet smell of pilgrimage for years to come.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A sense of Adventure

Last night I was watching the TV show Survivor and thought that I need an adventure like that.  The opportunity to move outside my comfort zone and test myself seemed really appealing.  As I thought about it a little more I realised that I am heading on such an adventure in August - to WYD.  Not that I am saying that WYD is a TV game show that eliminates contestants, but it an adventure where you can test yourself in the best possible way.
We live in an era where people get their sense of adventure from extreme sports.  People jump off buildings, climb cliff faces without ropes, ride rapids, ran away from bulls etc etc.  While some of these extreme sports give an adrenaline rush, how much do you learn about yourself? Extreme sports can be about facing our physical fears such as heights, but what about the internal fears that run our daily life? Extreme activities loose the sense of adventure because you don't learn much about yourself as a person.  

An adventure is not just about the extreme but it is about the difficult.  An adventure teaches us about our normal life by showing us something different to our ordinary life.  An adventure has an end goal, an outcome or a prize for the person who successfully finishes the adventure.  Here are three reasons why WYD is an adventure:

  1. Different - most adventures take place in a different setting.  There is nothing more different for the pilgrim than to travel to the other side of the world to a country that doesn't speak english as its first language.  WYD pilgrims will experience different customs, different foods and different religious practices.  It will be a great adventure to experience all these differences.  Remember this saying whilst experiencing something for the first time "It is not weird just different".
  2. Difficult - the one element that challenges everyone on an adventure is the difficulties.  In fact the difficult times usually make the best stories when you get back home.  The stories from past WYD's about all the difficult experiences are usually the times where people grew the most.  Remember this saying when experiencing some difficulties on pilgrimage "difficult is part of the adventure".
  3. Outcome - extreme sports have a desire outcome that helps you get through the pain, travel adventures had a destination that makes the journey worthwhile, weight loss or diet has a desired outcome that makes the exercise worthwhile.  The adventure of WYD is not so much about the outward journey but the internal outcome of walking with God and listening to God whilst on pilgrimage..  When on pilgrimage focus on the outcome of the entire pilgrimage, keep the big picture in mind.  Remember this saying whilst on pilgrimage "God what are you doing in me?"

So lets see WYD as a great adventure, an adventure to discover the best of who we are.

Mark McDonald
Pilgrimage Coordinator

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is on your WYD pilgrimage packing list?

Here is your opportunity to interact with the blog.  We are currently working on a packing list for WYD pilgrims, what do you recommend?  Here are a few categories to recommend:
  1. Clothing - what must a pilgrim pack for their WYD pilgrimage?  What can't you live without?  I don't think you can take everything so what items are essential.
  2. Travel gadgets - do you need a torch, a towel, water bottle?  should we pack a sleeping pillow?  there are so many travel gadgets which are worth taking?
  3. Brands - What are the brands that you have found to be reliable and worth the cost?  We all know we need a good pair of shoes but get specific - what brands will you be wearing?
  4. Luggage - what type of luggage will you be taking?  Are you a backpack or a trolley case person?  Do you have a day pack to recommend?
  5. Bible - what type of bible will you be taking?  What style would you recommend to other pilgrims?
The more comments we get the better our packing list can be.