20 June, 2013
With only one month to go before pilgrims set off for WYD in Rio de Janeiro, 50 Australian pilgrimage coordinators recently met in Sydney for a final preparatory briefing before leading over 1700 pilgrims to South America.
The Australian pilgrimage to WYD will consist of over 30 groups from various dioceses, communities, groups and movements in the Catholic community across Australia. Sixteen Bishops and a large number of lay leaders, youth ministers, chaplains, religious and teachers will travel with the young pilgrims, visiting different parts of Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina.
Matters discussed at the briefing day included reports with the latest information and planning from the WYD Office in Rio. It also provided coordinators with spiritual formation, updated travel arrangements, logistical and critical response planning, and a time to discuss post-WYD retreat and formation strategies.
A feature of this WYD for young Australians will be its focus on mission. Many pilgrims engage in mission work arranged by local groups, including the Christian Life Movement (CLM) and Caritas in Peru, and the Columbans in Chile. These and other organisations work with the underprivileged and marginalised in some of the most impoverished parts of South America.
Young Australians, in collaboration with local aid initiatives, will have the opportunity to participate in mission projects that have been many months in the planning. From building a chapel, a sports field and much-needed staircases in villages on rugged terrain, many Australian pilgrims will experience life in some of the poorest communities in the world.
“Preparing our Aussie pilgrims for the size and scope of this WYD experience is a priority for leaders” says Malcolm Hart, Senior Youth Ministry Projects Officer of the BCPL for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
“From the confronting poverty and conditions that will be seen in the Chile and Peru mission experiences, to the overwhelming size of the expected 2-3 million youth in Rio, Australian pilgrims are expected to have a remarkable and awe-inspiring experience.
“This WYD is shaping up to be a truly unique and profound experience for our young people; and a powerful encounter with the living Christ present in the youth from around the world, alongside our Holy Father Pope Francis.”
Despite all the planning, a key message from the briefing day is to expect the unexpected. With some matters still being finalised around airline schedules, visa processing, on the ground programs, and activities in Rio, leaders and pilgrims alike are being encouraged to have patience and respect for local customs and conditions, and embrace the nature of pilgrimage.
It is expected that approximately three million young people from across the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day, 23rd-28th of July, with Pope Francis, formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and first South American to be elected to the Papacy.
For more information visit www.wyd.org.au or contact Malcolm Hart on 0419 951 417.