"Under a brilliant winter sky, wild cheers erupted across Barangaroo when the biggest youth Mass in Australian history got underway in Sydney yesterday afternoon. More than 150,000 pilgrims, spirits soaring, had spent the day flooding into the venue in anticipation of the extraordinary celebration led by Cardinal George Pell which marked the official opening of World Youth Day. [...] Scores of young people from around the world, wearing their national dress, took communion at the altar. Later, flags were hoisted high and the audience sang along as the World Youth Day theme song was played to the by-then reverential crowd"
Michelle Cazzulino & Lauren Williams
"From every walk of life and corner of the world, this United Nations of Catholic pilgrims illustrated yesterday the faith and joy of the international visitors inundating Sydney" - Gemma Jones
"Barangaroo came alive with impromptu dancing, as pilgrims from around the world came together in a party-like atmosphere to mark the official opening of WYD08. National flags were draped around shoulders with pride, but they were all united in devotion to their Church. Across town in George St, the pulsing artery of Sydney was transformed into an impromptu parade that became the beating heart of the world's pilgrims". Kate Sikora et al.
"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 Berowra Hieghts. That's when I first saw it. [...] 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 pilgrims have brought to Sydney. [...] This is a natural high we haven't seen in this city since the 2000 Olympics, only, dare I say, even better. ... It is unadulterated joy and it was noticeable yesterday at every turn.
[...] 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... And I was holding my handbag tight in this crowd? There is nothing malicous about these gorgeous young people... Indeed, you don't have to be Catholic for this one, Sydney. Just walk through the wash of colourful flags and bright smiles and you will feel this city breathing again."