Last week Renee and I went to our third and last destination of our fellowship, Canberra, which is the capitol of Australia! Like all weekends here, we had another fun-filled weekend before we left for Canberra. On Saturday evening, which is the same day we came back from Newcastle, Sister Rose Mary picked me up in the evening, and I attended a talk with her held at Santa Sabina that was given by one of the Dominican sisters who just came back from Palestine, Israel, Jordan. I learned more about the work she did with the Dominican sisters in those countries and also the hostilities between Palestine and Israel. Also, her presentation gave me a good idea for when Renee and I have to present to PC about our fellowship this upcoming semester. After her talk, I went to Mass at the covent at Santa Sabina. I met Father Dan before the Mass who was familiar with my hometown area since he attended Boston College. At the end of Mass, he introduced me to the other sisters and thanked me for coming and how he is familiar with the Canton area (small world!) After Mass, I went out to a Chinese food restaurant with Sister Rose Mary and three of the other Dominican sisters. Sister Veronica drove me over who also received her Master’s from BC and is also familiar with the Natick/ Framingham area (a very small world!) Also, she had just come back from the Camino de Santiago which she talked about during dinner. This is something that one of my good friends at PC and roommate Maryssa and I have talked about doing ever since we saw the Martin Sheen movie during DWC freshmen year. Sister Veronica gave some tips on how to train and what to pack that I have passed along to Maryssa.
On Sunday, Elizabeth and I went into the city to go to Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney (guess I was extra holy that week since I went to Mass twice!) The cathedral is breathtakingly beautiful both inside and out and the Mass we attended was the singing Mass. Also, since it was a beautiful day on Sunday we walked around Hyde Park which is right outside the cathedral and around the city a little bit.
On Monday, Sarah and I walked around Newtown which is an artsy suburb of Sydney and I finally made myself try kangaroo in burger form (sorry roo!) Also, that night we had a special going away dinner for Renee and I at the Pooley-Pow house since while we were in Canberra, Elizabeth and John left for South America and Louise left for her backpack adventures through Europe. It was hard to say bye to members of a family we had become so close too and basically our home away from home while in OZ:(
On Tuesday morning, Jane and Sister Rose Mary drove us down to Canberra. We stopped at a cafe about halfway there where we were told they had also stopped at when they brought Emily and Joe to Canberra two years ago. I ordered pancakes off the menu just like Joe had and took a picture of a scarecrow outside the cafe I was told like Emily had- have to keep some traditions ya know? Once we got to Canberra we noticed a temperature difference- it was cold cold cold and actually did feel like winter compared to Sydney. We first went to the Australian Catholic University campus in Canberra, which is also a Dominican university like us, and met Professor Patrick McArdle, the Dean of the Signadou campus. Professor McArdle had visited PC two years ago and he had met Fr. Robb as well. He told us how he was most impressed by the student involvement at our Campus Ministry compared to other American Catholic schools he visited, and he wants to emulate ACU’s campus ministry program to be more like ours- go PC! We then went over to Catholic Life and met Greg Jeffrey who helped to coordinate our program in Canberra. Also, at Catholic Life we met our host mom, Sandy, who brought us home to her house where her and her husband Wayne live. Later that night, we went to a “Guiness and God” event that are talks put on monthly by Catholic Life and feature different speakers and topics in a pub setting. We actually had dinner with the speaker that night, Patrick Langtrell, and he is one of the people who founded the “Theology on Tap” talks that PC sometimes hosts in McPhail’s- same idea!
On Wednesday, Renee and I went into work with Sandy and Josh, one of the workers at Catholic Life, brought us over to ACU where we met up with Sister Rose Mary and Jane who stayed overnight at a Catholic house in the area. We met Richard Jameson at the Indigenous Center which reminded me of the Campus Ministry chapel basement hangout- kitchen and all. We stayed there longer than we anticipated talking to him. We learned that he is from Aboriginal background and was not recognized as a full citizen of Australia until he was 7 years old! After getting lunch at the ACU cafe (like Alummni but no take 3 option), Jane, Renee, and I walked around the school grounds which is a lot smaller than PC because it has a total enrollment of 750 students compared to ours which is between 4000-5000. The campus is very quaint except it was like a ghost town when we were there since students were on holiday. After, we met up with Sister Rose again and her and Jane brought us to the National Art Gallery of Australia where we looked at Aboriginal art.
On Thursday, Sandy brought us into work again and Jane and Sister Rose met us there to bring us back to ACU. We met Dr. Jo Brady, a Josephite sister, who is actually visiting Providence in September! Dr. Brady is very involved in the education program at ACU which I was very much interested in hearing since I am considering a career in education post-grad. We took a picture with her Sister Rose could send to Father Robb so he can put a face to the name. Sister Jo hopes to visit PC while she is in Providence and we hope we get to see her again! Later that day we went to the Australian National Museum and saw a special exhibit of Aboriginal art. After getting a lunch at the museum cafe, where I tried my first flat white (similar to a latte except milkier) Sister Rose and Jane dropped us back off at Catholic Life where we said our goodbyes before they drove back to Canberra. Later that evening, Gabby, a student at ACU who we met previously at Guiness and God, picked us up from our homestay and we attended pasta and prayer with the Marist Youth. They have a dinner every month for the Marist Youth, which is mostly boys who graduated from the Marist high school where the dinner is held. Every month they have a featured guest speaker, which we learned only a few days before is us! We were a little nervous about what we would talk about, but us talking was very low key and we talked about our fellowship, what we have been doing in Australia, and other service work opportunities we have done at PC. I talked about my spring break trips with Habitat for Humanity and my volunteer work with S.T.O.P. Hunger. After we talked, we hung out with the youth and it turned out to be a fun night!
On Friday, was our 4th of July! We were greeted by people at Catholic Life that morning telling us happy Independence Day! Josh, Anna (Greg’s fiance), and Ellen (a Youth Ministry group leader/ uni student) took us to do touristy activities in Canberra. Our first stop of course it being the 4th of July, was the U.S. Embassy. Although we were not granted access to go inside (boo) and the security guard said we could only take a picture in front of the sign, I guess we at least got to see it! We also saw Parliament House, the War Memorial, went to a cool hands on science museum called Questacon, drove to the top of Black Mountain, and went to a cute tea shop that had every tea flavor you could imagine (it is hard to believe a year ago I did not like tea at all since it’s all I drink here!) Oh and did I mention we passed about 50 kangaroos while on the road- and being me from outside the country asked if we could stop, which we did but when we walked up all 50 kangaroos were starring at us…and then all hopped away (well at least it was a sight to see!) Later that night, Josh and Stuart decided to make a good old 4th of July barbeque for us so it did not feel that we were missing out- a meal of hotdogs and grilled chicken! We played board games that night with some of their friends (which quickly got competitive) but was still a lot of fun!
On Saturday, after going out for breakfast with Wayne, Sandy, their son Matt, their daughter-in-law, and their baby grandson, Patrick, we were dropped off to meet Josh, Anna, Ellen, Stuart, some of the boys from the night before, and Josh’s youth group for a bush walk (very Australian!) I love going for walks and hiking so I enjoyed the scenic walk! The walk ended up being 10K (6.2 miles) and at the end we enjoyed a barbeque. Also, again we saw 2 kangaroos on our walk! After the walk, we went back with Josh to his place and relaxed and watch the “Lego” movie with Josh and Stuart (they tried to tell us the Lego movie is better than Toy Story but I beg to differ…) We then said our final goodbyes to Josh after he dropped us off back at Wayne and Sandy’s for dinner. After dinner, Wayne showed me some of is photos from Pearl Harbor since they had just come back from a big trip to the U.S. and Canada about a month ago.
On Sunday, we went to Mass in the morning before heading back on a bus to Sydney! Despite the cold and some foggy mornings (I could even see my breath on some cold mornings!), Canberra was a good time! So long! Cheers!