Doug Eaton

A host of fun with pilgrims

WHEN their church asked for families to host fellow-Catholics coming to Australia for World Youth Day, Bonnie and Neville Donnelly jumped at the chance.

Four pilgrims - Simon Ma'Asia, John Chris Liliu, Albert Ei and George Harunari - arrived from the Solomon Islands last week, ready to experience Australian culture with the Donnellys.

“There has been a lot of sharing between cultures,” Mrs Donnelly said.

“At a church-organised barbecue on Saturday night they saw fireworks for the first time, and one of them was given a glowing cross by a pilgrim from Korea,” she said.

Mrs Donnelly was also thrilled to find they all shared an interest in music. “I felt very lucky to have boys staying who were just as interest in music as I am, and they play and sing beautifully,” she said.

After having a grandson stay with a German host family for a previous World Youth Day event, the Donnellys were happy to offer their home to young pilgrims visiting the region.

“At first you think you're doing them a favour, but then you end up getting just as much out of it as they do, and we feel very lucky for it,” Mrs Donnelly said.

The pilgrims, aged between 20 and 25, have spent plenty of time visiting local attractions.

“They went to all the things organised by the church, as well as the lighthouse at Byron Bay, Gromfest, the Lennox markets and Macadamia Castle,” Mrs Donnelly said.

Mrs Donnelly felt "more than privileged" to have hosted the pilgrims.

“They were an absolute delight. They were so well-mannered and appreciative of anything, and it was wonderful meeting young people from different cultures,” she said.

Mrs Donnelly admitted she would miss 'the boys', who left yesterday for the World Youth Day events in Sydney.

“It was just the most wonderful experience, and we will send them lots of photos of their stay here,” she said.



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