Salesian selected to be at Pope's boat-a-cade arrival
Salesian Sister MaryAnn Schaefer / photo credit: The Beacon
Salesian Sister MaryAnn Schaefer / photo credit: The Beacon
By Cecile San Agustin
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Salesian Sister MaryAnn Schaefer, admissions director at Mary Help of Christian Academy in North Haledon, NJ, couldn't dream of a better place to celebrate her 25th jubilee as a religious sister than at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.

WYD in Sydney will be an especially unique experience for Sister Schaefer. She will be cruising on Sydney Harbor in one of the 13 boats escorting Pope Benedict XVI's "boat-a-cade" during the Pope's arrival July 17. By chance, she was picked for this opportunity as a member of XT3.com, WYD's networking site.

"I received the e-mail on July 1 and I couldn't believe it. I had to have one of the sisters reread it to make sure it was real," said Sister Schaefer.

This will be her seventh WYD experience in which she has led young people - already attending WYD in Denver, Manila, Paris, Rome, Toronto and Cologne. And even though she is a WYD pro, Sister Schaefer still gets excited about these international encounters of seeing the Pope and most especially, bringing the young people closer to Christ.

"The young people just completely change seeing the Holy Father, if you saw the look on their faces," said Sister Schaefer. "They get a sense that the Church they belong to is something more than just their parish and they see the global Salesian community from all over the world and see how many young people are like them and are taught by Salesian religious (through the international Salesian community rally at WYD)."

This time around in Sydney, she will be leading 31 young people - many of them students, alumni and parents of Mary Help of Christians here and friends of the Salesians in Louisiana, Florida and the neighboring Newark Archdiocese and Metuchen Diocese. They will leave tomorrow for Sydney and will meet up with a group led by Salesian Father Steven Ryan, provincial councilor for Youth Ministry /  Vocations of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which is based in South Orange.

To prepare for the pilgrimage during the past year, Sister Schaefer and the pilgrims hosted sharing sessions at St. Joseph Chapel on the campus of Mary Help of Christians Academy. At the sessions, the catechetical themes of WYD reflected on the Holy Spirit.

A special WYD cross was made for the Salesian contingent, which has traveled to every single participant's home for a week as a symbol of the journey for the community. According to Sister Schaefer, the cross will be coming with them to Sydney as the make their pilgrimage to the final Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

In Sydney, the Mary Help contingent will be arriving right before WYD festivities begin which allows them to make a stop in Engadine, a city 45 minutes by train from Sydney, where they will serve in a nursing home run by Salesian Sisters.

Once WYD activities start, the group will evangelize the love of Christ as an "animating team" for catechesis sessions at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Sefton, a suburb right outside of Sydney, in which thousands of English-speaking Catholics worldwide will gather together to share in faith.

"We will be leading a music group for the catechetical sessions and Mass," said Sister Schaefer, who said she is in complete awe of the opportunity.

During the three days of catechetical sessions, they will meet a host of international bishops - Bishop Joseph Aind of the Diocese of Dibrugarh, India; Bishop Denis Browne of the Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand; and Bishop William Morris of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia, who will give a talk each day.

When the pilgrims return home, those who are students at Mary Help will be doing presentations each month on the 10 patron saints of WYD as a way to keep the memory alive and to pass on the WYD message to their peers.

Sister Schaefer said the experience of WYD has been a memorable part of her life as a religious these past 25 years. "Being part of WYD since Denver in 1993 has strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus, as well as my relationships with the young who I have been serving for the last 25 years. It has confirmed my choice of charisms, that of St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, as a Salesian Sister."

In three years time for the next WYD, wherever that destination may be, she hopes to once again be leading young people on this journey of a lifetime.

Printed with permission from the Beacon and the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20