In the summer of 2008, my sister (who is now my maid of honor) and I went on a pilgrimage to Australia.
**all photos in this post are personal**
We traveled with a small group of youth from the Diocese of Richmond to Sydney for World Youth Day to meet and worship with Catholic youth from around the world, be witnesses to the faith in a global setting, and see the Holy Father in person (albeit from very far away in a crowd of thousands).
See, we’re veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery far away in the crowd.
Yay for big screens!
Richmond sent our tiny group of youth with one adult chaperone, an elderly couple who were pretty much there just for the sightseeing, and a priest that my sister and I have known for years because he used to be our pastor. This priest was our group leader, meaning he had our registration information, was able to check us in at the school that was offering shelter to WYD pilgrims, and knew how to acquire the packets of information that included vouchers for public transportation and FOOD. Very important bit right there.
Here, Father is both posing for the camera and making sure I don’t fall off the railing I’ve climbed up on to snap this picture.
Father arrived in Australia about a week or so before we did to attend “Days in the Diocese,” a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, find all the best restaurants, and learn the bus and subway routes.
Our 10 days in Sydney were definitely an adventure, but the actual airline travel to get there felt adventurous in itself.
I’ll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say that our group from Richmond was delayed by over 24 hours due to various kerfuffles from the airline. When we finally made it through customs and were lamenting the fact that our luggage wouldn’t arrive until the next day (marking three whole days in the same clothing at this point), my sister started to freak out a little bit. You see, none of us had an international cell phone on us. We had no way to get in contact with our group leader who would have shown up at the airport the day before and been unable to find us. Without Father, we were lost. (There’s a nod to a certain Shepherd and a call to “feed my sheep” in there somewhere, but I won’t dwell on it.)
Just as her worry was starting to spread to the rest of us, my sister vocalized what we were all thinking: “How are we going to find Father?”
Then all of a sudden, we heard my sister’s name coming from a few paces away.
How on earth he knew where to meet us is a mystery to us, when the airline couldn’t even tell us what time—or even if—we’d even be arriving in Sydney. But there he was. From that moment on, he garnered the moniker Father Ninja.
Because Fr. Ninja has been a family friend for so long, the best priest I’ve ever known, and a crazy-fun travel buddy, I knew I wanted him to marry us if he could—or at least be there as a guest. Mr. Potion has since met Fr. Ninja and agrees about his awesomeness, and we both thought it would be better to be married by someone we actually know as opposed to a complete stranger—the pastor of the church where we’re getting married.
Apologies for the poor quality—my mom scanned in this photo of MOH and me with Fr. Ninja after altar serving at Easter Vigil back when he was pastor at our parish.
So once we’d made a decision about where to have the wedding ceremony, the very first “vendor” we booked was Fr. Ninja! I think maybe I was more nervous asking Fr. Ninja to marry us than Mr. Potion had been when proposing to me…I left a long, rambling voicemail message and later received a positive response!
So how did you choose your officiant? Is the person marrying you a friend you wanted to invite to the wedding anyway?