A day out on Sydney rails.
On 28 January 2024, my father and I partook in the East Coast Heritage Rail: Goods Road* Tour from Sydney Central Station. We were on the second of the two tours for the day: 11am and 1pm AEDT, respectively.
The tour departed and arrived on Central Station Platform 3. It was a heritage consist of various Department of Railways New South Wales railway carriages and hauled for the day by a 421 Class diesel locomotive, 42105 ‘Chumsayer’, owned and operated by private owner Chumrail.
We were booked in an N type carriage at the front of the train next to 42105.
Our train departed Central at 1pm on its balloon loop route encompassing the Inner West and Canterbury Bankstown regions. We headed out on the Western Line (T1) towards Lidcombe where we turned south briefly onto the Bankstown Line (T3) before turning back eastwards, just after Regents Park Station, onto the Sefton Goods Line. We passed through Chullora Rail Yard on the southern boundary of Rookwood Cemetery and then turned south once more heading through Enfield Marshalling Yards, one of the more major and visible reminders of the original extent of Enfield suburb before boundary redistributions by government.
After Enfield we re-joined the Bankstown Line proper at Campsie, passing through Dulwich Hill and having a gander** at the unopened Sydney Metro conversions of half of the Bankstown Line at Sydenham as part of the Metro South rail project.
We returned to Central Station an approximate hour-and-twenty-minutes after our departure.
All in all, it was a good day out on the rails, but I think it’s only helped crystalize my preference for journeys that have set destinations more so than just “wandering about”, but that’s just me.
21 Feb 2024
* An unfortunate Americanization of railway terminology in the past few decades in NSW. Railways in NSW (at least from their inception) used the British railway vernacular (railway, lines, carriages). Whereas South Australia has actively used the United States vernacular (railroad, roads, cars) ever since the appointment of American William Webb as Chief Commissioner in 1922.
** Gander : to have/take a quick look.
Reviewing my 12-Month Social Media Exodus.
Well, it’s been 12 months since I started my Social Media Exodus and now it’s time to review the year that was.
Okay, so starting off, 2023 was World Youth Day year for me. You may have seen some posts here and there on the blog and archived on the website, and possibly also on Facebook (sarcasm).
Speaking of the aforementioned social media platform, I think it’s safe to say that (apart from WYD) I haven’t been signed into it any more than strictly necessary. Nowadays it functions, for me personally, as more of an alert-slash-events manager and reference tool for finding people and past events.
Since WYD I have been using Messenger far more than I thought I ever would in my whole life.
It’s certainly been a change of pace having a social life.
Twitter is all but officially mothballed, waiting for a reason (if any) to actively post on it again.
Even though most Catholic parish Youth Ministries appear to have highly active profiles, I still don’t ever see myself returning to Instagram. Certainly not under my own name in any case.
As for YouTube… oh, dear. Apart from proactively uploading two videos from WYD Lisbon featuring the lead vocals of Fr Samuel French I’ve been passively over-consuming other people’s YouTube videos.
My anxieties over travel, packing, and WYD preparations absolutely did not help cut down on my ‘Watch time’ as I had hoped to rein in 12 months earlier. Being stuck in a maelstrom of choice-paralysis over what small new camera to buy to take over with me to Europe for the pilgrimage didn’t cut down wasted hours either. And in any case, I ended up taking more photos with my smartphone than I did with the camera I bought to stop me over-using said same smartphone. Live and learn, eh? I have bought a Peak Design camera strap that should help aid in using the camera more in future.
And speaking of the future, I am all too aware of my current (ahem!) “habit” of bookmarking videos and website articles about various different foods, religious sites, and locations of interest across both East and Southeast Asia in the possibility of preparation(!) for 2027 World Youth Day. People are not kidding when they talk about the WYD / Travel-bug.
As an aside, I still don’t think that I’d ever be able to learn, let alone read, Hangul / Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. I’ve accepted that a) I don’t have to know everything and b) that I’m going to be especially reliant on those who can and have persevered to learn Korean.
Returning to YouTube specifically, I did come across the DF Tube Chrome Extension that has been of some great help in cutting down more video-related rabbit holes than I would have without it.
Its main attraction (for me) was the ability to turn off the righthand video suggestion box whilst watching a YouTube video. Admittedly it makes things lopsided visually, but it does mean that I have fewer distractions from the video in front of me. Sadly, DF Tube can’t do anything about my procrastination. That’s all on me.
So, to sum up. I have been relatively withdrawn from my social media profiles – discounting blogging about the WYD pilgrimage. I have gained a social life that is aided by messaging applications which come with their own problems – the applications, not the social life.
My personal struggles with self-discipline and YouTube over-consumption remain. In part I know that some of this is due to a lack of projects and regular routine. Pray for me.
Putting my focus on posting blogs and standardizing parts of this website has helped me feel less pressured than I would have been if I was still only posting on Facebook or Twitter. As well as not having as much comparison-itis with the edited and project lives of other people on social media. This doesn’t mean that I still don’t struggle with comparison, it’s just not as severe as it has been in the past.
In closing I think that I will continue as I have done so these past 12 months and with God’s help get a better grip over my YouTube-surfing and other self-defeating habits.
Until next time.
25 Jan 2024
Website refresh for 2024.
As you may have surmised, I have once again change this website's appearance. Cosmetically, it is not too much of a departure from the previous design, but it does have one or two improvements on the later. The main one being a dividing line between blogpost titles and the start of the post. (Yes, I am that picky over visual design.)
On the formatting side of things, I have broken down the WYD 2023 Blog Archive posts into Country sections (e.g., Italy, Portugal, etc.) to give a visual break and create landmarks for readers to navigate with.
I have also begun implementing sectioning my Artwork pages, breaking them down by Yearly Quarter (e.g., Q1, Q2, and so on.) If for no other reason than being visually neater.
Also, I do prefer this new website theme's rendering of hyperlinks with underlining. Visually helpful for someone looking at this site with there phone on black-and-white mode or for those who are colour-blind.
Once again, until next and Happy New Year.
7 Jan 2024
Illustrated 1 January 2023
In another of the many firsts in 2023, myself and few other Catholic youths went last night (15 Dec 2023) to see the St Mary's Cathedral 'Christmas at the Cathedral' Lightshow in Sydney after having dinner at Ichi-ban Boshi beforehand.
Until next blog post, a holy Advent to you all!
16 Dec 2023
Just a brief update to let you all know that, yes, I am still alive.
I am currently in the middle of a 6-week course on “Theology of Body” by Pope John Paul II which is taking up nearly all of my mental and physical energy and leaving myself with not much left in tank for anything.
This is in addition to my general lack of focus and purpose in the wake of World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 and finishing my 2024 Calendar.
Currently, I find myself living (read: surviving) from one ex-WYD pilgrim social event/get-together to the next, which are so far averaging about a month apart. Post-World Youth Day Blues? Perhaps.
I know that I shouldn’t complain, because before WYD I had never had any social life what is filling up my calendar now. But I am aware of how fickle sudden-social-relationships can dissipate in the blink of an eye unless they are tended to and (hopefully) cultivated into last friendships.
Please kindly keep myself and all my fellow “Theology of the Body” course participants in your prayers.
22 Oct 2023
The following is a revised version of my earlier blogpost (published 25 September 2023) about the “Vocations Night talk by Fr Marek Woldan.” The previous version contained minor inaccuracies and miscommunication of key facts owing to the brevity of the notes that I took during his talk and has led to unforeseen misunderstandings by readers of Fr Marek’s personal wellbeing. As of the publication of this revised blogpost, the previous version has been removed from my website to avoid any further confusion.
I am thankful to Fr Marek for reaching out to me to help me correct the record on all previously mentioned points.
How God speaks to us simply, in ways that He alone knows that we can understand.
Unfortunately, he was left at somewhat of a disadvantage by the semi-regular speaker Fr Samuel French (who sent his regards for that night) who had already covered every possible topic about vocations under the sun prior to World Youth Day Lisbon.
So, what could Fr Marek possibly talk about to a dining table of two dozen or so Catholic youth? He chose simplicity and talked from his own experience.
Fr Marek was 7 years old, back in Poland, when he first knew his vocation in life.
At the time his two older siblings were preparing for their First Holy Communions. He recalled that somehow, he had picked up a prayer book and was reading it. Even looking back, he knew that he could not understand much of what was in it, but he was reading it. Then his mother walked into the room where the little Marek was and said: “Ah, Marek, I see that you are going to become a priest.” Not wanting to upset his mother, he said, “Okay.”
Later on in his life he was thinking about it. When all his classmates from school were worrying about which high school to go to, Marek was not worried. He knew that he was going to be a priest. It was very convenient to know it from that time, there was no uncertainty for him to deal with.
In seminary, around Year 2 or the beginning of Year 3 you are investured with the black cassock of a priest, and (in Poland) you are to no longer wear secular/common clothing. This is a very important threshold within a seminarian’s journey to becoming a priest. A visible sign that you are truly serious about answering God’s call to this holy vocation. No former seminarian would wish to be remembered amongst his community for going through with his investiture only to then say that the priesthood is not his true calling.
It is far better for you to resign before this moment happens, Fr Marek told us.
So, it was at this important threshold in his own journey of discernment that seminarian Marek had his first seed of doubt: Am I being truly called or am I just doing this for my mother? Dear God, please tell me, is this just me wanting to be a priest to make my mother happy or are You truly calling me to this?
Two weeks before he was to receive the cassock Marek was visiting his family, still wondering whether his calling was real or not. For some reason his mother began recounting stories from his childhood, he had heard most of them before. But then she told a story that he had not heard before.
Marek’s mother told of when as a child up until the age of 2 he had suffered through twelve bouts of pneumonia, one soon after the other. During one of these periods of illness, when she had taken him back to the hospital to be examined again, the doctor said to her, “If I were you, I would prepare.” Prepare for his death.
Not at all content with the doctor’s advice, Marek’s mother took him to their local church and prayed before the altar of Our Lady. She made a deal with Mary, “You heal him, you can take him.”
A while after, Marek recovered and the details of these events began to fade from his mother’s memory, until God called them back to the front of her mind when Marek most needed to hear them. It was late in Marek’s vocation, but it was still the right time — God’s time — for him to hear this story. Here was the confirmation that he was on the right path; God the Father was calling him to be a priest.
Fr Marek knew at the time, ‘This is not about me.’ God speaks to each of us in different ways. HE knows which ways to speak to us that we can understand, individually. Listening to some details of your life, you will see clearly where God is calling you. God can speak through other people. Pay attention to things that are repeated: phrases, events, conversations, and so on. It is not always some big message or big trumpet blast; God speaks to us simply, in the ways that He alone knows that we can understand.
For example, Fr Marek’s Vocation to be a Missionary.
When he was walking through a high school as a Year 9 student, out of the corner of his eye he noticed a poster for the Geographic Department and that was a small photo showing somewhere in Oceania, he couldn’t recall where exactly. And in that moment, it came to him, “Okay, I am going to be a missionary.”
God used something I would understand, he said. Something as simple as that photo.
Later, it came to his heart that he was to go to Papua New Guinea. There was no warning, he had no prior ideas about it, this was God calling him again to where he should go.
Priests that Marek knew, and his own fellow seminarians, told him that becoming a missionary would not be so easy. Their bishop was not one to let go of freshly ordained seminarians, Marek may have to wait a year or two before the bishop would be willing to let him go on mission work. Marek was not fazed; he knew that he was going to be a missionary.
Every time that the bishop came to visit and talk with the seminarians during their years of formation, Marek would say to the bishop, Bishop, “I am going to Papua New Guinea to be a missionary.”
Later on, Marek thought to himself, ‘Hmm, it might not be a bad idea to have some experience before becoming a missionary.’ So, he decided to stay for a year, or two, in Poland as a priest in a parish before becoming a missionary. He ended up staying 6 years for placement in his local diocese.
Then the bishop came on one of his parish visits. When he saw Fr Marek, he said, “Okay, here is the man who said he would be a missionary.” This statement left Fr Marek thinking again about his vocation and precipitated his second struggle with doubt. “Am I being called to be a missionary? Is this of me or not?”
In his parish as a newly ordained priest, Fr Marek met and became friends with a former missionary who was also living there. They would often go out for lunch together and the missionary would share stories about being a missionary, not knowing that the young priest before him was called by God to be a missionary as well.
Fr Marek knew that God was calling him to minister in Papua New Guinea, but all the missionaries from his diocese in Poland went to serve in communities in Africa and South America. There was no one who had been to, or was in, Papua New Guinea that he could ask about being a missionary there. He felt being called specifically to Papua New Guinea, however there was no one to contact to find out whether they were indeed in need of missionaries in that part of the world.
Fr Marek knew that if he was to be a missionary, he would need help in discerning the call.
“Okay, God if I am to be a missionary, I need a sign or a contact in Papua New Guinea to know that you want me to go there.”
What then followed for Fr Marek was a long period of prayer and questioning, by himself and others. This was God’s good way of purifying his call to missionary work. Marek wasn’t doing this because he liked the idea of Papua New Guinea, no, he wanted to go there because that was where God Himself was calling Marek to be.
After this period of purification there was still no sign or contact from Papua New Guinea. Then Fr Marek thought to himself, ‘Okay, Marek, if God calls you to be a missionary, what does it matter which country He sends you to?’
Only after this did Fr Marek then find out that one of his priest friends was actually going to be a missionary in Papua New Guinea. However, as clear a sign as this was, it was still not enough for Fr Marek to take this as a sign from God. He need confirmation that he wasn’t taking this turn of events to his human advantage — he had already given his, “Yes,” to God to go to Africa.
So, Fr Marek went to talk with the Director of the Mission Training Centre where he was studying, and asked the director, “Where should I go to be a missionary: Africa or Papua New Guinea?”
The director answered him, “They have more than enough missionary priests in Africa already, go to Papua New Guinea.”
And so that is how Fr Marek came to be a missionary in Papua New Guinea, but that was not the end of his story.
In his time ministering in Papua New Guinea, Fr Marek was called again by God with a thought, a thought that the missionary had never had before, that came to his mind: Australia.
Australia! Why Australia?
It took Fr Marek a while to understand this call. Talking with those around him and his fellow missionaries, he could come up with many Human Reasons to go to Australia:
In the end none of this Human Reasoning finally mattered, only God’s Reasoning mattered.
When Fr Marek received his call to Australia, it was so clear. Normally people have motives for moving. He had none. He was trying, as all humans do, to make up reasons for something that cannot be answered by human reasoning. For God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are above our ways.
The only reason Marek had to go to Australia was that it is THE Call — God’s call — and that was enough reason for him.
Now that Fr Marek is in Australia, he feels deep within himself that he is in the right place. The place where God wants him to be. His past 2 years in Australia have been of great spiritual growth to him and his life as a priest. That spiritual growth was never a motivation for him to come here, he has only received it because he followed God’s call.
For Fr Marek, the best way in life is to follow God’s call. He cannot truly express in words how happy and fulfilled he is for following the many calls that God made in his life so far.
In closing, Fr Marek advised us to be attentive, to discern, and aware of the things that we may not even think of as God’s call in our lives - may just be the God of Infinite Surprises knocking at our heart’s door.
He was glad to see so many young people gathered for the Vocations Night, “It is good that you are actually putting your ear to what God is calling you to. Thank you.”
Fr Marek Woldan has been an ordained priest for 23 years.
He was born and raised in Częstochowa, considered to be the Spiritual Capital of Poland.
In January 2008 he arrived in Papua New Guinea and was sent as a parish priest to one of the parishes in the Diocese of Mendi.
From the end of 2021, Fr Marek has been an assistant priest at Our Lady of Dolours Parish, Chatswood, Sydney, helping with pastoral work in the Diocese of Broken Bay.*
(Revised Version) 4 October 2023
* Details taken from Our Lady of Dolours Catholic Parish Chatswood Facebook post welcoming Fr Marek to the parish.
* 2024 Calendars are now Out of Stock *
Showcasing various photos from my 2023 WYD pilgrimage to Lisbon.
Just a brief post to say that my 2024 Calendar containing a selection of my photographs from my WYD Lisbon 2023 pilgrimage are now available to order for the new year.
— Cost for the 2024 Calendars is $30 AUD, plus postage (within Australia).
— For International postal orders we will arrange Air Mail costs appropriately, on an order by order basis.
You can place your order through the form found under the Contact page or by messaging me via Facebook, or via LinkedIn (though I am hardly ever on that, at all).
29 Sept 2023
It's slowly starting to hit me that I'm actually going abroad in 7 days.
I'm really feeling the exhaustion, as I write this, after having been out tonight at our Diocese's WYD Pilgrim Blessing Mass. It was a very taxing night mentally, as well as physically.
Thankfully, I can report that I am now in possession of both my Diocesan Pilgrim and Pilgrimage Travel Provider Kits. I know have a better idea of what I have to pack as well as how much extra space is now available thanks to the new cross-body satchel.
17 Jul 2023
Previous WYD Formation Session blogposts:
Pre-Session #1 Thoughts
WYD Travel Itinerary UPDATE
Because that’s basically the only thing that I can control.
Our 3rd World Youth Day Formation Session was held last Tuesday (20 June) in the same venue as Session #2. There wasn’t all that much new to talk about.
We had confirmation of the multiplicity of different flight paths/times we would all be taking as pilgrim small groups going into Europe and coming out again due to post-COVID-related travel booking arrangements. I've illustrated my own flight path below.
Small updates about diocesan-branded WYD merchandise and clothing. The diocese’s WYD app has been approved by Apple, but no mention of Google at all.
We had a rough explanation/run-through of how the Rise Up Catechesis session are supposed to run; our diocese will be the Animating Host Team for the English-speaking sessions for a 3rd WYD. Think conversation ice-breakers and running around with wireless microphones to multiple other English-speaking pilgrims from across the world inside as-yet-to-be-determined venues.
My rather lacklustre reporting of this is because I’ve only in the last 24hrs found out that I will be the only one from my small group flying out on the first of the 3 flights from Rome to Lisbon on 31 July. I will of course be travelling with other pilgrims from the same bus group; but before this oblique gut-punch, I was already processing that I was being flown into Lisbon by Ryanair. An airline that any aware passenger needs no introduction to.
And I am still recovering from whatever laid my low after my cross-border travels from almost 3 weeks ago. Other than that, I am at least slightly closer to starting a picture that’s been waiting since before my afore-mentioned sojourn.
Until next time.
28 Jun 2023
News and Other Stuff
About recent artwork, inspirations and other things I find interesting.