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Days 13 & 14: We travel and retreat

So on Monday we enjoyed a sleep in before our final Mass together in Panama. We achieved a first for Archbishop Peter as he celebrated Mass on a pool deck. With the glistening water beside us, we celebrated Mass before boarding the coach bound for the airport. After some bus karaoke (Aerosmith anyone?)we arrived at the airport bound for Houston, Texas! We farewelled our guide Louis and caught a very full plane with some from the Parramatta Diocese. On arrival in Houston we were tired and a little peckish. We boarded a coach to head to our retreat centre. 
 
On advice of our new tour guide Andrew, we made a pit stop at Bucees. Bucees is an American truck stop - Texas-sized. With everything you could need - food, drinks, candy, clothes, toys, fishing rods... Pilgrims were amazing and confused as we stopped to grab a few extra snacks on the way through. After our stop, we finally arrived at the Christian Renewal Centre. A beautiful retreat centre in the Oblate tradition. After supper and a quick orientation, we headed to bed. On this pilgrimage, we have been lucky enough to have twin accommodation the whole journey so each pilgrim has a roomie that they've kept the entire trip. Sounds like it could be dangerous but this group has been amazing and everyone gets on truly well.
 
Tuesday has been our chance to really retreat and unpack the experience of World Youth Day and our Mexican pilgrimage. We have had talks from Archbishop Peter and Sister Mel Edwards MGL as well as time to reflect, pray and relax. By taking the time to explore what the trip has meant to us before returning home, it means we can focus fully on what it means. Our retreat is short, we will be back to Houston Airport tomorrow afternoon to start the pilgrimage home, first to Los Angeles and then to Melbourne. The time we have spent together was a unique opportunity - a cohesive group with like-minded ideals and understanding for others. We have relished the chance to get to know Archbishop Peter, Fr Dishan and Sister Mel as our chaplains as well as each and every pilgrim. It's been a real privilege and delight.

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