Notre Dame WYD Pilgrims share their journey with Sydney Campus

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 14-9-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Sydney Campus

Publication Place



Staff and students from The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney Campus gathered for Mass and a barbecue lunch to welcome home the World Youth Day pilgrims.

Some of the students who made the journey took the opportunity to share their testimonies from the road to Madrid.

The presentations were kicked off by pilgrim Jessica Nohra, whose journey down Mount Sinai irrevocably altered the course of her trip.

“My highlight from the trip was Mount Sinai,” Ms Nohra said.

“On the way down the mountain, I slipped on a rock and I twisted my ankle. The pain was just unbearable and they had to get a camel to take me the rest of the way down the mountain, a 45 minute trip!”

“At the hospital in Sinai, they told me my foot was fractured. They plastered my foot and I came home in a wheelchair. It took a while to sink in that this was the third day of my pilgrimage and I had two weeks left on the road in a wheelchair. It wasn’t what I was going for, but obviously, God had a different plan for me,” she said.

Pilgrim Madeleine Vella was also changed by the trip up Mount Sinai.

“I found my encounter with Mount Sinai physically and mentally challenging,” Ms Vella said.

“It’s a 1am start to go up the mountain on camels. I’m afraid of both heights and the dark. I didn’t realise how tall camels are until I was sitting on one in the dark.”

“I was petrified. I was thinking, ‘This is it, I’m going to die on this camel’. So I closed my eyes and did what I always do when I’m scared and that’s pray. I asked God, ‘Why am I here?’ All of a sudden, I was blessed with this overwhelming sense of peace and I felt the safest I’ve felt in my entire life,” Ms Vella said. “I went from the extreme of being the most scared I have been in my entire life to feeling the most safe and that amazed me. I opened my eyes and all I could see was this blanket of stars and the silhouette of Mount Sinai in front of me and it was amazing. My fears had been conquered through Christ and I can carry that with me forever.”

Professor Hayden Ramsay, Deputy Vice Chancellor Sydney, was in the crowd listening to the testimonies and said the students had made the University proud.

“The proudest day in this young University’s history was in 2008 when Pope Benedict visited the University and gave his name to our medical library,” Professor Ramsay said.

“The second proudest day may just be today. The Sydney, Fremantle and Broome Campuses were absolutely thrilled when students put their hands up and said they wanted to attend World Youth Day.”

“We are immensely proud of you, thank you very much for telling your stories and please keep telling them with passion to your fellow students.”

For further information please contact: Communications Officer, Elizabeth Fenech

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney Campus

T: 02 8204 4407 E: elizabeth.fenech@nd.edu.au W: www.nd.edu.au/