ONE WEEK before the eyes of all Catholics over the world turned towards Sydney and World Youth Day 2008, three students with their teacher journeyed to Australia from St Benedict's Senior School in west London.
Here they joined their fellow Benedictine brothers and sisters for the third International Benedictine Youth Congress (IBYC), writes Richard Winslett.
The congress took place from July 10 to July 14 in Collaroy, north of Sydney, and was attended by over 200 students with teachers, monks and nuns from 40 Benedictine schools throughout the world.
The international influence of the life of St Benedict was clearly seen. Indeed. St Benedict is alive and well.
The Congress. organised by Sister Mary McDonald and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, adopted the idea of Dadirri as the theme. "Dadirri", a word meaning "deep listening", originates from the language of an Aboriginal tribe from Australia's Northern Territory.
This concept was examined daily in conjunction with St Benedict's idea of listening with "the ear of the heart", through sessions such as "bush meditation", Lectio Divina, silence, prayers and the Eucharist.
The IBYC, as well as providing a prelude to World Youth Day, created an opportunity for relationships to develop between young people from all over the world. There were students from Chile, America, South Africa, German, Philippines, Tanzania and Sri Lanka, Australia and, of course, England. Not only did the congress provide a unique opportunity to experience various cultures through Masses organised by different groups, as well as cultural performances at the end of the four days, but it also showed that the Benedictine community extends far beyond your own school's community in Ealing Broadway and is something truly universal.
Everyone who took part in this congress was left with a special memory, be it the friendships that were created or a deepening of their faith.
The enthusiasm that was present at the IBYC was carried on into the events of World Youth Day, and consequently all those present at Collaroy hope that, like the World Youth Day, the IBYC will continue to grow and prosper.