The day of the closing mass began with a scorching sun and many tired faces as Pope Francis arrived to celebrate mass with us. We sat huddled under a newly traded American flag for the entirety of the mass due to the extreme heat and the wave of heat stroke. The crowd erupted when Pope Francis walked to the altar.
The conditions were hot; yet many pilgrims listened to the ever-enlightening wisdom that Pope Francis always offers. He spoke of how we would not just respond to challenges by 'texting a few words'; and instead to try to make a change for the greater good through prayer. The Pope urged all of us to be dreamers; and refuse to see borders as barriers. We should not just stop in our mercy towards others after WYD; but to continue well after this momentous occasion to spread the good news.
We then endured the most trying section of our pilgrimage as we prepared to walk 14kms home in the heat with a few kids from bus 11 beginning to feel the overwhelming pressure of the day. To cope with the heat and mass crowd, we had to take multiple rest stops before eventually deciding the only way to go was to power on and hope that the rain clouds would help us on our journey. Our prayers were answered to an even better extent; however as we were greeted by the sight of an empty tram heading straight for the university, cutting the majority of our trip.
We made it back to the university and had a well deserved break before celebrating the birthday of one of our bus 11 family members, Annarita. Overall; despite being an exhausting day, it gave us all an opportunity for some serious bonding as the encouragement and support of every group member was there, attempting to keep morale high amongst everyone and we can never thank them enough for us. The day had its fair share of ups and downs but it was truly a reflective experience, and this provided us with a chance to understand the true meaning of a pilgrimage.