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Local Town Makes Good - and Clean and Skinny and Smart - and Goes to the Dogs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 19 July 2008 10:06
And the good news is, you can't die until you've been here.

In 2006, Colorado Springs was Money's Magazine's "Most Liveable Big City." (MSNBC named us 3rd best metro area to live in, and Kiplinger gave us #5 in 2008.)

It helps that we are in Colorado which is not only one of the most beautiful places God ever created but apparently also the slimmest state in the union for the past 18 years.

Year after year, Colorado Springs makes the American Lung Association's list of top "clean air" cities.

Apparently, we are the 9th best place to raise a family.

We have the honor of being the country's best city for dogs according to Mens' Health Magazine: (Hmmm, Pippin, what do you think of that?)

"Colorado Springs is a real playground for pooches, with about 250 days of sunshine a year and an abundance of outdoor activities. It earned top marks for the number of boarding and daycare facilities, and it had the highest maximum fine for animal cruelty--half a million bucks."

Forbes awarded us the title of "Most Pet-Friendly City" a title which explicitly includes cats. (Pippin is greatly relieved.)

We are also one of the top 10 "smartest cities" :

'This mountain city is a small-scale Seattle, a burgeoning high-technology center that is attracting highly educated workers. Seventy-one percent of Colorado Springs' adults have gone to college. That's the second-best rate in the nation, topped only by Madison's 75 percent.'

I must forward this to my friend, Mark, who refuses to see reason about all this.

Apparently, CS is also listed in the Book "1000 Places to See Before You Die." Who knew?

And now, Men's Fitness Magazine has just named us the fittest city in America. This whole post is just a chance to quote the first paragraph of the story - which I found funny - run on sentences and all.

(Warning, this is a secular men's magazine so that language is a bit less refined than one would normally expect to find here. But most of you are Catholics, not Baptists, and Catholics are usually an earthier lot where language is concerned.)

"There are 300-plus sunny days a year in Colorado Springs, but this is not one of them. While the peaks of the Front Range to our west are slathered in deliciously skiable snow, those of us in the Garden of the Gods, a century old city park with the grandeur of a national reserve, are being bitch-slapped by the kind of moist, icy winter blast that leaves the sky the color of a forehead knot three days after hitting a steering wheel in a head-on fender bender. But man, is it gorgeous. You know those bumper stickers that claim the worst day fishing is better than the best day working? That's how it is in "the Springs"-the ugliest day here is prettier than the prettiest day in a whole helluva lot of places. That's why tall, trim orthodontist/marathoner Ed Poremba and his pink-cheeked teenage daughter/future marathoner, Becky, are still getting in their six-mile Saturday morning run amid the jagged red rocks, clingy junipers, and placid deer, despite the fact that the Garden of the Gods has been coated in a vast, flavorless Slurpee.

"It's the best!" Poremba proclaims of his town, without knowing that the Men's Fitness 10th annual survey of the Fittest & Fattest Cities in America had reached the same conclusion. "Of all the places I've lived in, you can't beat it."

(The Garden of the Gods - in non Slurpee mode)

Colorado Springs: where all the women are smart, all the men are skinny, and the cost of living is below average.
WYD: " Basques, Britons, Albanians, and Californians " PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 19 July 2008 09:56
Apparently, they'll let just anybody into WYD. :-}

This just in from Clara at WYD, who is settling down for the very short sleep of the just before her 5 am Sunday morning wake up call:

"We completed the 10km walk with reasonable ease. The spectacle of people and flags of every nation while crossing the Harbour Bridge was breathtaking and made the whole walk feel much shorter. It is interesting to note that it is not so much nationalism that is being celebrated as regional culture - there are flags from the Basque region, from Brittany, even a flag from the "Californian Republic" carried by a group of Hispanic youths who do some great chants. I spoke to some Albanians who were surprised I recognised their flag - their national group consists of four persons!

Yesterday I blogged about the luxurious surroundings in which we watched the Stations of the Cross courtesy of VIP passes from Bishop Anthony Fisher OP. (Clara and Bishop Fisher have been friends since they were undergraduate classmates together.) This evening we, and some of our friends turned down the VIP tickets for the Vigil so we could have what my son Dominic described as a 'genuine' pilgrim experience. It was great fun as we huddled under space blankets and participated in the liturgy with half a million pilgrims. The weather has been perfect at around 20 degrees C each day. This evening is forecast to be around 10C. During the evening there was hardly a breath of wind which facilitated the candlelit vigil. The Holy Father focused on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and all the bishops were invited to call down the Spirit on the assembled gathering. Awesome.

Caroline is with a youth group, and Michael and the boys are camped next to five French-speaking priests from Congo. As I tucked the boys into their sleeping bags, Dominic asked me to pass him his rosary beads which were tied to his backpack. He informed me he was going to say the Rosary before sleep, because that is what you do on pilgrimages.

It is now six minutes past midnight. My alarm is set for 5am so I can get to Randwick by 6.30am where they will serve breakfast. Morning Prayer is at 8.00 and Mass at 10.00. I haven't passed up the VIP passes for the Final Mass. They are good seats with a reasonably close to the sanctuary and hopefully a good view of the Holy Father.

One more day and then I think my children are planning to attend the next one!"

A proposal PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 July 2008 09:18
Written by Joe Waters
I have been pondering a question for the past several days: what is the "engine" of evangelization? I suppose the root of this question is some recent reading I have done about the Benedictine evangelization of Europe and reform of the Church in the early Middle Ages. Why was it that the monastic movement was so successful in evangelizing Europe? First, I think it is because Benedictines propose the whole pattern of Christian life in microcosm through their prayer, work, and community life. Secondly, at the heart of monastic life was (and is) prayer and contemplation. What efforts do we make in our parishes and dioceses, even when we have the best intentions for evangelization, at prayer, which is the engine of evangelization? This brings me to my proposal: what if every parish and diocese that wanted to take evangelization seriously started with two basic, but essential steps.

1) Establish Eucharistic adoration at the heart of the parish or diocese and formed adorers to intercede not simply for personal needs, but for "kingdom" needs. What if they prayed before Jesus-Host for the pope, bishop, priests, deacons, religious, and laity and their role in the mission of the Church? What if they interceded for Catholic newspapers, radio, television,  for other organizations committed to the "New Evangelization," for seminarians, seminaries, seminary professors, and religious formators? But most importantly, what if they prayed for all of those who don't know Jesus? What if they interceded, when possible by name, for those who don't practice the faith or for those who have become lukewarm? What if we took before the Eucharistic Emmanuel those in the public eye who don't know Jesus, the imprisoned of our communities, the addicted, the abused and their abusers, the unloved, those involved in grave sin, and those whom we hurt by our sin? Finally, what if we prayed for God to prepare the hearts of the ignorant and soften the hearts of the obstinate to receive an encounter with our Lord? Establishing disciples in this sort of prayer life before the Eucharistic Lord not only forms them into apostles of prayer, but makes fertile the soil for the preaching of the Gospel in the diocese or parish. This would be a great first step in implementing any comprehensive program of evangelization at any level of the Church's life.

2) We must engage all consecrated men and women, but especially contemplatives, in the task of evangelization according to their charism and state of life. What if we began our efforts in evangelization by first going to those who have been consecrated in a unique and intense way to the love of God and invited their unique contributions and participation in evangelizing the diocese or parish? What if we were intentional in calling upon them as partners in our apostolate? And can we not also call upon God to raise up new forms of life and more men and women to join us in this task according to the various charisms and states of life God has given the Church? Would we pray for God to raise up consecrated hermits and virgins from within our parish?

As I have thought about these things I have come to renewed conviction that prayer and contemplation is the "engine" of evangelization. The most successful evangelical movements within the life of the Universal Church testify to this. The Benedictines are one ancient example, the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity a more recent example, and let us not forget that St Dominic established a monastery of contemplative nuns at Prouille some years before the first Friars gathered in Toulouse. The chronological priority of the contemplative nuns underlines the spiritual priority of contemplation and prayer in the mission of the Order. However, the same truth applies to the preaching of the Universal Church: our preaching is made fruitful by prayer and contemplation. I propose that we rediscover the heart of the contemplative life as a gift to Mother Church for the sake of her mission.

Word From Down Under PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 17 July 2008 18:31
Clara writes from Sydney yesterday:

Last evening we attended the Dominican Gathering at the Great Hall at Sydney University. The Speakers were Fr Paul Murray OP, lecturer in spirituality at the Angelicum and Cardinal Schonborn. Schonborn's address on the debate over creation and evolution attracted great interest. It was so crowded that Cardinal Schonborn barely had standing room. The entire stage, aisles, were covered in bodies eager to hear him speak. Hopefully we will be able to send you a few photos of that event which is less likely to attract media attention.

The Papal arrival was spectacular. Today had been dubbed "Super Thursday' by the commercial media and we were astounded at just how many Sydney siders lined the streets for the motorcade. Our boys were reasonably close to the boat when it docked and could see the Holy Father at close quarters. His homily, it was agreed by a number of us, will need to be unpacked over the next few months. We did love his observations about the long haul flight being evocative of the creation story of Genesis.

And this just in:

In a state of sensory overload. Stations of the Cross were marvelous - our vantage point was excellent although a somewhat unusual way to watch the stations - we were in the Exhibition and Convention centre watching the television coverage on big screens
with refreshments served between stations. We were able to watch one of the stations from the window.

An interesting interview with the director, Fr Franco Cavarra was aired during the telecast. Fr Franco was a late vocation, entering the seminary at age 45. By profession he was previously a director of Opera and Theatre. At age 35 he had a deep personal conversion and it took him another 10 years to take the decision to enter the seminary. He said that in the last six months all his life experience came together in working with the cast of the Stations. He said that he is absolutely happy in his vocation as a priest, but marveled at how all his experience has been used in the production of this event. A good Called and Gifted story.

Off to walk the 10 km to the pilgrimage site.
Chinese Pilgrims in Sydney PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 17 July 2008 18:06
Finally, some word about WYD pilgrims from China. There is a group of about 60 Chinese in Sydney - and their story is gripping.

"About 60 pilgrims from mainland China attended World Youth Day in Sydney. Among them were priests not registered with the Chinese government who, for the first time in their lives, wore the black and white collar that identifies them as a Catholic priest.

The Chinese pilgrims said they were ecstatic to be in Sydney.

"We can feel the Holy Spirit working upon us," said one young woman. "All our young people feel the hand of God moving on them, healing them and making them stronger."

The pilgrims agreed to talk to Catholic News Service July 15, as World Youth Day opened, only if their real names were not used.

Father Li Jinxing said that for the first 20 years of his life, he had never met a priest.

"Priests were heroic figures, heard about but never seen," said Father Li, who said the Catholic faith was practiced secretly in his home under threat of government persecution. "Parents and grandparents kept the faith strong."

He said in China today "things are improving a little" but much still depends on the tolerance of local and provincial authorities as to whether the church has a legitimate profile. He spoke of China's two Catholic communities -- those that register with the government and those that refuse to register and continue to operate in a semiclandestine manner.

"The government allows too few seminaries to train the numbers of priests in the official church, so the underground church is by far the bigger one," the priest claimed.

As a 20-year-old in Hebei province Father Li attended a hurriedly convened secret Mass. Like all such gatherings, the liturgy was celebrated at lightning speed for fear of discovery. It was at the Mass that Father Li met his first priest and there, as he received Communion, that he realized his vocation."

And this footnote is very interesting:

Accompanying the Chinese pilgrims was a 22-year-old Texan who has been studying Chinese while working as a lay missionary; he did not want to be identified for fear of endangering his ability to work in China. His connections to the Arizona-based U.S. Catholic group Youth Arise North America ensured that the pilgrims' fares and registrations for World Youth Day were paid through a donation of $20,000 (U.S.).

"It is a small miracle in their lives," he said of the journey.

The Texan said that in his ministry he meets "people who are desperate to meet the one true God."

"Their grandparents were told that communism was the savior of the world. Their parents were told it (savior) was capitalism. They have been let down on both accounts," he said.

"When they learn that God is a father who loves and treasures them individually, they weep with the realization," he said. "It is a very emotional church; they feel the faith deeply in their hearts."

He said the Chinese pilgrims' experience in Sydney would be incalculable.

"These are young people who are leaders in their communities. My work is not about converting people, it is about raising up leaders in the indigenous church,"

A young American Catholic raising up leaders in the Chinese Church. This was so common in the evangelical world but it is so rare among Catholics. God bless him!

I'm going to be giving some presentations to a group of Renewal Ministries' "country coordinators" in September and I am awestruck at what they are privileged to witness and be part of around the world. The Catholics of Africa and Asia and Eastern Europe live in such a different world than we do. Even the issues of priestly formation are remarkably different.

I look forward to being able to soak in some of the Church's life around the globe through my time with these remarkable and faithful leaders.
Great Highlights of Pope's Arrival in Sydney PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 17 July 2008 13:43
The best coverage (edited highlights) of the Pope's arrival at Sydney that I have found is here via the World Youth Day 2008 site.

Spectacular views of Sydney Harbor and the great procession of boats that accompanied him. Reminds me very much of Seattle although when I was in Sydney, it felt more like San Francisco.

Love the pictures of a painted aborigine pointing out the sights to the Pope.

Pope Benedict seems to be truly enjoying himself despite the wind which is blowing his garments around. Remarkably intimate real time coverage.
This Isn't Generation RSVP PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 17 July 2008 08:29
I'll try to remember that.

By Anthony Barich and Catherine Smibert from the Melbourne Archdiocesan World Youth Day webpage. H/T: Clara, our tzarina down under, who experienced the long lines produced by all the last minute, unregistered arrivals.

"Generation Y is demonstrating to World Youth Day organizers in Sydney why they weren't called Generation RSVP, says the coordinator of the event.

Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney told ZENIT today that thousands of unregistered pilgrims arrived to the host city on the opening day of World Youth Day, providing an extra challenge for the organizers to accommodate the unexpected overflow.

Thousands stood in line Tuesday at registration stands in Hyde Park, Circular Quay and Broadway. World Youth Day began today in Sydney, and will culminate on Sunday with an open-air Mass presided over by Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse. Some 500,000 are expected to attend the closing liturgy.

"This is not Generation RSVP," said the bishop, "this is Generation Y, and they just arrive and decide to register on the spot, and we're getting them in the thousands."

He said that over 100,000 international pilgrims have already arrived, and that organizers are confident of achieving their goal of having 100,000 Australian pilgrims, including 40,000 Sydney residents.

"Some of them we didn't know about; they've been arriving unregistered and we're past maximum capacity, but we're doing everything we can to make sure they get into all the events, get transport passes and accommodation and food," said Bishop Fisher, the youngest bishop in Australia.

24-year-old Sabrina Dias from Mexico was one among those registering late. She said she is in Australia visiting her family, and she "happened to be here at the same time."

"It's an opportunity not to be missed," she added.

"Look at the streets of Sydney," Bishop Fisher said. "We've never had this before. […] We've never had this many young people full of the faith, of idealism, of enthusiasm for Jesus Christ, his Church and the future of our world."

He added that Sydney is the first World Youth Day where that has been a large participation from the Pacific.

In Cologne 2005 there were 100 pilgrims from New Zealand, 10 from Papua New Guinea and less than 100 from the rest of the Pacific.

This year there are 4,500 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Papua New Guinea and up to 1,000 from each of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and other small island nations, the bishop reported.

The youth day organizer explained that this was due to the contribution of local parishes and schools to the fairs of the poor Pacific Islands. A contingent from East Timor was also made possible through local fundraising efforts.

Dressed in traditional tapa wraps in colors designed specifically for his parish group, Tonga Rui of Tonga told ZENIT he is excited "at how World Youth Day has been able to unite so many of the Oceanic region."

Bishop Fisher added that the indigenous participation attending the youth event will also be "way out of proportion to their population numbers" due to the support from local communities.

Aboriginal performers are headlining key events throughout the week, as are those from the oceanic islands."

Australia's First Saint: Mary MacKillop PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 21:42

Blessed Mary MacKillop will be a saint.

"POPE Benedict XVI has thrilled the Australian Sisters of Saint Joseph by telling them that Mother Mary MacKillop will be canonised to become Australia's first saint.

At the Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney this morning, the Pope prayed before the tomb of the Blessed Mary MacKillop, who was beatified in 1995 after Pope John Paul II accepted a claim that she had performed a miracle by curing a woman of cancer.

The congregational leader of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Sister Anne Derwin, said the Pope referred to Mary's eventual canonisation.

“He said: `She will be canonised, we're waiting for the miracle',” Sister Anne explained.

For sainthood, two miracles are required to be accepted, and the final stage of her sainthood now rests on Rome accepting a second claim - this one also a woman who was cured of cancer.

Both women are alive and both have asked for their identities to be kept private."

We regularly tell Mary's story in the Called & Gifted workshop. She was actually excommunicated by her Bishop (who later repented on his deathbed). She, like the amazing Mary Ward, another foundress who endured terrific persecution and was actually imprisoned by the Church, have been totally vindicated. Their primary fault was in the breadth of their apostolic vision which was considered unthinkable in a woman at that time.
Stories from Behind the Scenes of WYD PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 10:35

Here is a powerful testimony from the former gangster who will be sharing his story at WYD.

It is part of the highlights of today's catechetical sessions. Many good stories from those involved
at many levels.
The (Unsolicited) Word From Texas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 09:21
It is fascinating what you can stumble across:

TXMomTB writes at some length about her experience of the Called & Gifted small group process and the impact that discernment is already having on her life and marriage.

"This information has been so empowering for me. For one thing, now that I know my charisms, I know which kinds of ministries and which kinds of positions in a ministry to focus on. Before, anytime someone told me about a ministry, I thought I should check it out. I'd feel some vague guilt that I wasn't doing enough, or that maybe they needed me, like any warm body could fill that role and it might as well be me. I would try and then leave different ministries, or keep doing it despite not being interested. Volunteering would drain me and I would continue out of wanting to be virtuous more than being called. I thought service needed to be difficult to be really useful. Now, though, I know that not only does God want to work in me in a particular way, but that other people have the gifts that I don't have. It doesn't mean I won't struggle, of course, just that the right ministry or position will enable the Holy Spirit to bear more fruit through me than the wrong ministry will. That all seems so obvious but apparently I needed to learn that lesson!

Learning about these charisms also explains some of the more unusual spiritual experiences in my life. Like the time a total stranger came up to me in chapel to pray over me. Or the time, during a healing Mass, that a stranger prayed for healing and that sickness they prayed about went away. Those things brought me peace at the time but weirded me out. Now, though, I can look back on it and understand that the Holy Spirit didn't just work that way in Biblical times. Some rare, special gifts are still here today.

It also helps me to understand my husband and family better. My husband J., for example, has the charism of hospitality. He is just so warm and welcoming to people. We can't leave Mass without him talking to someone, and half of the time it's a stranger that he's welcoming to our parish or inviting to a ministry or event. I used to try to drag him out because I just didn't appreciate that--I would be hungry or shy and wanted to go home. I thought he was just being his typical extrovert self. Now, though, I see that people appreciate that about him, and they approach him as often as he approaches them. So I need to put my discomfort aside and let the Spirit work through him in that way.

While I hate to sound like a commercial, I can't help sharing this information because this workshop has been so interesting and helpful. You can learn more about this workshop at"

Hi Texas Mom To Be! I'm sorry that I've not gotten to meet you personally but am delighted that you have found the C & G process so helpful! God is going to give others (including your adopted child) so much of his love and provision through your availability and obedience.

The specific small group version that Texas Mom is referring can be found here: To see when a live event is coming to your part of the country, check out our calendar.
Catholic "Text" of the day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 06:59
Today's text message from Pope Benedict XVI to participants at World Youth Day.

"The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles & gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI"
WYD Photos PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 15 July 2008 16:42
Go here for a exhilarating series of pictures taken from yesterday's WYD Mass. (via the Australian)

They capture the exuberant joy as nothing else does.

And gives someone like me who has never been a sense of the impact such a gathering can have.

To know that you are not alone!
To experience the global breadth of Catholic community, life, vitality.
To sense (perhaps for the first time) that power and relevance of the faith.
To have your vision for what your life could be and mean raised and raised again.
The daring to hold such a huge event in such a secular age and time - and its impact on the city that holds it.

God bless John Paul II! If he had done nothing else but institute World Youth Day, he would have left a huge mark.
Catholic Quote of the Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 15 July 2008 15:06
The Pope's text message to WYD pilgrims:

"Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus - BXVI."
WYD: "Roman Catholics, Not Lager Louts!" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 15 July 2008 14:25
Simply marvelous!

Inhale the exuberant joy of this description of the impact of WYD pilgrims and you can see God is already mightily at work softening the hearts of Sydneysiders.

"THE sun was just rising. It was around 6am and bloody cold on Sunday morning at the top of a hill in a suburban street in Sydney's Berowra Heights. That's when I first saw it.

As I started off for a run, the chatter of two young women could be heard.

Then, from the fog, they emerged. Bleary-eyed, no doubt from a rough night on the floor, and under-dressed for the biting wind in their lightweight t-shirts, the women were jumping up and down in an attempt to keep warm. As they blew hot air into each other's hands, they giggled like young children.

As I passed them one of the ladies with the broadest of smiles said an overly cheery "good morning" in a thick Italian or maybe French accent. The other said something to the effect of: "Peace to you."

It was pure goodwill from two strangers with no apparent reason to be laughing at that time of the morning as they waited for their lift in the freezing cold.

That was the first time I noticed the unprovoked, unrehearsed and utterly infectious happiness the World Youth Day pilgrims have brought to Sydney.

And not a friendliness of the variety I usually stumble across on an early morning run - the happy drunk or the buzzing clubber spilling out of a nightclub and smelling seedy.

This is a natural high we haven't seen in this city since the 2000 Olympics, only, dare I say, even better. No young punk throwing up his JD and coke on the Homebush train, no rednecks in their Aussie flags and off their chops on ecstasy, no bomb threats or sniffer dogs at this event.

It is unadulterated joy and it was noticeable yesterday at every turn.

It was there on most train services, where an unprecedented number of seats were actually facing each other for a change.

Cheerful flag-waving Brazilians whistling and singing at Town Hall station, the soulful Maori pilgrims singing hymns on the East Hills line and Africans in traditional costume drumming at Circular Quay station.

It was there outside St Dominic's church at Homebush where even those who couldn't sing were singing - an entirely silent group of deaf pilgrims dancing and singing hymns in sign language.

It was there in Chinatown yesterday as I walked with 100-odd Tahitian pilgrims who were handing out koala clips-ons as gifts to strangers while singing As The Saints Go Marching In.

"Woo hoo pilgrims," a Muslim woman dining next to a table of nuns at The Golden Harbour restaurant yelled as the Tahitians passed.

You could feel it in the spontaneous soccer match which broke out next to the Entertainment Centre, when a group of Croatian pilgrims took on the Japanese.

It was on the face of Californian Alex Henriquez as he made his way to the opening Mass at Barangaroo. He proudly told me he'd sold 50,000 tacos and tamales at $1 each every second Sunday for parishioners at Mary Immaculate church in order to get to Sydney.

And it is in their humble offerings, not what the pilgrims are taking from the city but what they are giving in song, in prayer and in the random blessings that they offer to strangers.

As I was speaking to a cool young group of Sisters of Nazareth nuns in their funky sneakers and oversized sunglasses at Darling Harbour yesterday, Sr Marianna asked me to join their picnic.

"Please. It's like the loaves and the fishes. Have a bread roll. There's ham there, give her a ham one Patricia," Sr Marianna insisted in her Californian drawl.

And I was holding my handbag tight in this crowd?

There's nothing malicious about these gorgeous young people. Their aim is friendship, nothing more.

Like the girl from Indianapolis walking around Sydney with rosary beads she made out of yarn with a label hanging from each decade with her email address to give to her new friends.

It's the same surge of energy with that exciting international taste we experienced with the Olympics.

The nerdy volunteers are back in their daggy tracksuits, anyone who's anyone has a lanyard swinging from their neck and temporary tattoos of Aussie flags and Akubra hats have re-emerged.

But it's the generosity of the pilgrims and a humility you wouldn't have seen in the US basketball team back in 2000 that makes this so much more enjoyable.

So they're not spending up big at the Casino or Scruffy Murphy's. They're not staying in 5-star hotels. They're not even taking taxis.

But mention that to Sydney cabbie of 25 years Peter Steiner and he's all right with that.

"I haven't had one pilgrim in my cab but I've been enjoying watching them. It's such a happy atmosphere," he said.

"They are Roman Catholics, they're not lager louts. This is the good thing."

As one local girl described it in a whisper yesterday over her Hungry Jack's burger as a group of nuns walked in: "They're so cute. They're not in your face, like Bible bashing or anything."

Indeed, you don't have to be Catholic for this one, Sydney. Just a walk through the wash of colourful flags and bright smiles and you will feel this city breathing again.

It's not their religion but something about the innocence of their youthfulness and the rich culture they offer that makes this a good news story for us.

Not to mention that, for a city that loves people who love our city, we couldn't ask for more - the place is swarming with people saying how great the place is.

And with temperatures of 23C in mid-July, it has to be a sign of God for which we should be all be thankful.
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