Over 1800 young Australian pilgrims and 16 Australian Bishops are set to participate in WYD Rio from 23-28 July which has the theme “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28:19). This will be the first WYD for the newly elected Pope Francis and is expected to draw several million youth from around the world to celebrate the event.
Close to 40 Australian groups are making pilgrimages to WYD Rio. The largest is the Archdiocese of Sydney, host of WYD 2008 in Sydney. Over 450 will travel with Cardinal Pell and three auxiliary bishops from Sydney. Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta and Director of WYD08, is leading the second largest pilgrimage with over 250 pilgrims.
In addition to the larger delegations there is wide representation from around the country including a group of Indigenous pilgrims from Darwin and a Vietnamese group from South Australia.
Many groups have included immersion and mission experiences as part of their pilgrimage experiences. Forming partnerships with organizations like CLM, Caritas and the Columbans, pilgrims will help to build stairs in rough terrain, activity centres and even a chapel.
“WYD continues to engage the young of our Church in Australia, with WYD Rio being our largest pilgrimage to a non European WYD” said Bishop Fisher OP, Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Youth.
“The Holy Spirit is at work in the Church and in the lives of young people. WYD Rio is a unique opportunity for youth to serve in mission experiences in South America, and to meet our first South American Holy Father, Pope Francis.”
During the week of WYD, four Australian Bishops have been asked to give catechesis; George Cardinal Pell (Sydney), Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Brisbane), Bishop Eugene Hurley (Darwin) and Bishop Anthony Fisher OP (Parramatta).
In addition, Australia will supply two catechesis animating teams from the Archdiocese of Sydney and Archdiocese of Perth. These teams coordinate catechesis sessions on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings of WYD week, including animation activities and a Mass with Bishops.
A special event in Rio for Australian pilgrims will be the Australian Gathering on Wednesday 24 July. To be held at the centre for English speaking pilgrims, Vivo Rio, from 2pm-4pm, the event will celebrate Australia’s participation in WYD and seek to build identity and foster communion among pilgrims. The event was a highlight for many pilgrims at WYD 2011 and is set to be another great experience in Rio.
Malcolm Hart, the Senior Youth Ministry Projects Officer for the Australian Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, has great expectations for the Australian Gathering
“The Aussie Gathering in Madrid was so exciting and really created such a sense of purpose for our week together” said Malcolm.
“The focus of this year’s gathering will be a reflection on the Year of Grace and how we move from this period of reflection to action as we are called to go out and make disciples of all nations.
“Most of the program will be a surprise for participants, but this year I can say that we will hear from a number of young Australian pilgrims, Bishops and emerging Catholic musicians. We will also welcome an international musician set to visit Australian later in the year for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.”
Australia’s participation in WYD will be supported by a team from the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, together with Harvest Pilgrimages, Australia’s official tour operator of WYD 2013.
During WYD information and stories will be posted on the ACBC Mediablog. Live webcasts of WYD Rio events can be viewed at www.XT3.com.
For further information about WYD please contact Malcolm Hart on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 951 417.