Today we said a tearful farewell and goodbye to our host families and St Jude’s parish. To an over packed church at the farewell Mass we processed in with our host families by our side. During the Mass Fr Daniel spoke of the bond that formed between the pilgrims and the Parish. A beautiful example of their love and commitment to the Parish was when we were told of one volunteer who put off her surgery for cancer until after Missionary Week so she could be a part of the experience with us. We were all so overwhelmed with their love, spirit of generosity and selflessness that we leave St Jude’s Parish changed pilgrims.
At the end of Mass Benita spoke on behalf of us all and presented the Parish with a Marian Candle and two Santa Teresa Crosses. These gifts were a small token of our thanks for the great hospitality that was shown to us during Missionary Week. Our final gesture was to hold up signs saying “Obrigado”, Thankyou in response to the welcome signs for us at Tuesday’s welcoming Mass.
After lots of photos and farewell hugs we set off on the bus to Aparecida, the next biggest church after St Peter’s Basilica. Its enormous size was overwhelming, but there were small chapels in each wing of the cathedral for private prayer. One of the first things that some pilgrims did was light candles that matched their height followed by prayers of intention. We then walked into the old part of the city where the old church is situated. Although small in size the beauty in its detail was breathtaking. A place of quiet prayer and reflection was much appreciated.
After the three hours in Aparecida we continued the bus journey into Rio, arriving at Pier Maua (Aussie Central) at 9.30pm. After a short induction we hit the showers and set up camp in our section of the warehouse, a sea of foam mattresses that will sleep all 1300 Australian Pilgrims.
Robyn and Zena