Pilgrims on mission for God in Lismore
IT IS not every day you hear such joyous singing in the Lismore CBD.
But for the past couple of days, Italian pilgrims on their way to World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney have been sharing their faith through song with everyone they meet.
Waving flags and carrying Virgin Mary placards, the enthusiastic group has been walking along Keen Street, singing, clapping, playing musical instruments, and generally proclaiming their love for their Lord.
The pilgrims landed in Brisbane on Monday and travelled by bus to Lismore, and will continue on their journey to Sydney for a vigil with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday.
“We are here to announce Jesus Christ is real, not just a story in the gospel,” Fr Mauro, from the US state of New Jersey, said.
“Christ has given us peace and love, and we want to share that with the people of Lismore.”
Fr Mauro was joined by Fr Venanzio, who is currently ministering in Africa, and about 30 fellow Italian believers, who had come together from across the world for the World Youth Day celebrations.
Carla Festoni was one of those who travelled from Rome for the event.
“Jesus is important for our lives,” she said.
“Every day is a new day because every day Jesus forgives us because he loves us.”
The energetic group created a stir in the CBD, with some locals staring while others drove past honking their horns to show their support.
Lismore woman Sharlene Bates was grabbing a late lunch when she heard the group's singing from a few blocks away.
“They are so infectious,” Ms Bates said.
“People are giving them funny looks, but they really don't seem to care.
“It is clear they are on a mission from God, but it looks like they are having so much fun.
“I'm not Catholic, but I want to join in. I wish I knew more people that were as happy and loving as this group. And they are very fond of kissing, which I'm sure is just the Italian way.”