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Panama & Mexico
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Days 11 and 12: WYD Vigil and Final Mass
What a huge 48 hours for the Melbourne Pilgrimage as we set off early Saturday morning after a little court yard Mass. The Brisbane, Rocky, Townsville group tacked on as we managed to train past of the way. We then walked through the suburban streets of Panama to the supermarket where we picked up our pilgrim meal bags for the two days. After stocking up we stood in a queue for about two hours before they let the pilgrims in.
We set up camp in our section and settled in. Our little site was quite elaborate as we setup tarps and tents for shade which was at a premium. The weather here in Panama has been a very consistent 32 degrees most days with fairly high humidity in the morning and afternoon. To pass the time there were a few card games and naps.
At 5.30pm or so, Pope Francis did a drive by of the field and most of us caught a peek! We then had prayer and Adoration. The monstrance was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The Blessed Sacrament sat in a monstrance made from bullet casings as a tribute to peace and then, it was placed in statue of Mary. What a sight! As Adoration began, the whole field fell silent in prayer. It's always a truly magical moment at World Youth Day. At the conclusion of Adoration, there was some music before we tucked into our sleeping bags under the stars and tarps. There was group though not too far away who tried to party through the night, not us though!
A selected group of pilgrims has to get up at 2am as they were ticket holders for Zone 0 for the Mass. Zone 0 is the area right in front where there is no screens to watch, just the Holy Father! Our crew made their way there and had a beautiful time watching. The Pope spoke a great deal about the influence of Mary as well as young people and their lives in the present (not the future).
After Mass we began pilgrimaging back in small groups. Making our way back to our hotel any way we could so we could shower off the dust and grime from the sleep out. We depart Panama tomorrow, Houston-bound for a short retreat before we head back to Melbourne.