Celebrating faith

Teacher and Religious Education Co-ordinator at Rosary Park Primary School, Branxton, Amie Ward, embarked on the diocesan World Youth Day pilgrimage with great hope and a little trepidation.

“As a Religious Education Co-ordinator, I wanted to develop my faith and relationship with God and felt that the pilgrimage would be a wonderful opportunity to do this alongside like-minded individuals who were part of my faith community. But I was quite nervous about the prospect of travelling to foreign countries with a large group of people, most of whom I did not know,” said Amie.

One of the aspects of the pilgrimage that appealed to Amie was the fact that she would be walking in the footsteps of the saints on the way to World Youth Day Week in Krakow, Poland. The fact that she would also be celebrating her faith with millions of others from around the world was another drawcard.

“I have been educating my students for the last few years about the lives of the saints and had developed a real fascination with many of them myself, so being in Italy was amazing, particularly at St Francis’ Hermitage in Assisi where I felt so peaceful. And being involved in World Youth Day Week was incredible; witnessing faith in action and youth from around the world chanting, waving their country’s flag and singing. When the Pope first arrived I was really emotional as pilgrims hugged and cheered,” recalled Amie.

Amie bravely overcame a number of fears to take part in this life-changing journey.

“The pilgrimage provided an array of experiences that proved both challenging and rewarding. I was proud of the way I opened up and allowed myself to be immersed in the whole experience. I overcame my fear of heights and managed my anxiety around large crowds and not being close to my family support network to put myself out there,” said Amie.

The most important aspect of the pilgrimage experience was the impact it has had on Amie’s faith and how she intends to impart this to her students.

“My spirituality and faith blossomed as this journey progressed and I was able to gain a deeper appreciation of what it means to be Catholic. It is not just about churches or attending Mass, although this is an important part. I can see now that being strong in my Catholic faith is about being involved in community, reaching out to others and understanding that God is there for you, in good times and bad.

“These personal experiences will allow me to teach my students in more meaningful ways. I bought each of my students a St Francis cross in Assisi and they loved receiving this. I was able to tell them so much more about his life and where he worked and lived,” said Amie.

Worship and prayer at Rosary Park is set to become more meaningful as well.

“As a teacher the experience has been invaluable. I believe that I will be able to plan more authentic liturgical celebrations, having experienced so many wonderful liturgies throughout the pilgrimage.   My experiences in Europe will also allow me to engage the students with the RE syllabus in new and exciting ways,” explained Amie.

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Joanne Isaac Image
Joanne Isaac

Joanne is a Communications Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular columnist for Aurora Magazine.

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