Emerging Leaders Program

World Youth Day

St Aloysius teacher Mary De Bono is currently in Europe, attending the Emerging Leaders Program. Below she reflects on her experiences so far, and shares photos of her extraordinary experiences, including a session with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and the Australian meeting at the first World Youth Day gathering.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend The Emerging Leaders Program to Rome, Assisi and Lisbon for World Youth Day. On Day 5 of the trip our Rome experience sadly come to an end and we embarked on our journey to Assisi for two days. We are currently on our way to Lisbon for the world youth day celebrations.

Firstly, I would like to immensely thank Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools for their initiative in creating this awe-inspiring and spiritual program of a journey of faith. I would also like to thank my principal Ms Mary Farah for being obliging, supportive and encouraging of the experience.

While in Rome, we were informed that if you lived in Rome for a year and went to a church every day, you would still not visit every one. There are over 1000 churches in Rome alone. We had three inspirational speakers from around the world, toured many spiritual places of worship and have had Mass every day. Archbishop Comensoli has journeyed with us and he has be a wonderful leader and guide. We have also had several priests and seminarians from Melbourne travel with us. Several lived in Rome so their local knowledge was greatly appreciated. Their tours of the artwork were overwhelming and they are extremely educated individuals. The biggest highlight of the trip so far was a surprise organised event for us with private Q&A with Pope Francis at the Vatican. I was so overwhelmed with tears of joy. An experience I will honour and remember for the remainder of my life.

Another highlight was visiting Assisi and seeing St Francis and St Clair burial sites. Assisi brings ecology and faith together. Not only beautiful but also very spiritual. Today we head to Lisbon for the final week of our pilgrimage.

Mary De Bono