(Here's Pope Benedict XVI at Saturday evening's vespers for the Vigil of Ss. Peter & Paul).
U.S. Pilgrims Down Under
According to this Catholic News Agency article, the U.S. contingent will be the largest overseas group attending WYD in Sydney. This article quotes a figure of 15,000, which would make it one of the smaller groups of Americans attending
This article, from the Sydney Morning Herald provides a comparison from previous WYD's. According to their statistics, the US church sent 25,000 pilgrims to Cologne in 2005, 57,000 to Toronto in 2002 and 20,000 to Rome in 2000.
For the first time at WYD, the USCCB is sponsoring a Mass for all U.S. groups in Sydney on Saturday morning, July 19, at which Cardinal George will preside. After Mass, bishops will meet with pilgrims from their dioceses.
The article contains several other fascinating tidbits, such as American youth who will participate in some of the larger events.
Several young people will have special roles during World Youth Day. Armando Cervantes, from the Diocese of Orange, will be one of twelve people from around the world selected to have lunch with Pope Benedict on July 18 in Sydney. Juan Martinez, from the Diocese of Austin, will be confirmed by Pope Benedict during the closing Mass on Sunday, July 20.
Leonardo Jaramillo from the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Annalee Moyer from the Archdiocese of Washington have been selected to be part of the two-hundred-member International Liturgy Group, which represents all World Youth Day pilgrims. Members take lead roles in World Youth Day events, including the papal ceremonies and liturgies.
The Sydney Morning Herald offers a photo gallery preview of Sydney's "Stations of the Cross." The photos feature some of the sets, costumes, and Michael Scott-Mitchell, the set designer for the Way of the Cross. Given the incredible backdrops of Sydney locales such as the Sydney Opera House, the Cathedral, and the Sydney Harbor Bridge, I expect this to be one of the most impressive WYD "Stations of the Cross."
There's good news for those traveling Qantas to Australia. Qantas' airline engineers were planning to strike, but because of the Pope's visit they have decided to hold off until after World Youth Day. You can find more details on the story here
Australia's The Daily Telegraph has the details for the Pope's Sydney motorcade on July 17, for those pilgrims, Sydneysiders, and Australians who would like to get a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI during WYD. Here's an excerpt with the details:
World Youth Day organisers released the route of the Pope's motorcade and boatacade - along with the best vantage points for spectators - on "Super Thursday", July 17.
The Pope's flotilla of 13 vessels will leave Rose Bay and cruise past Farm Cove and Circular Quay before sailing under the Harbour Bridge to Barangaroo at East Darling Harbour.
After a welcoming address to more than 140,000 pilgrims, visitors and local residents, the Pope will transfer to his Popemobile.
The motorcade will drive along Hickson Rd and George St. before travelling along Bridge, Loftus, Alfred and Macquarie Sts to arrive at the Opera House forecourt.
It will travel via the Botanic Gardens to Mrs Macquaries Chair, along Art Gallery Rd. through The Domain, Hospital Rd. and then Shakespeare Place and Macquarie St. to St. Marys Cathedral.
This article states that "papal fever has hit" Australia, but then it goes on to talk primarily about those 24 youth will be confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI at the closing Mass on Sunday, July 20. While the article may be mis-named, it's still worth reading.
Among those who will be confirmed are: Bernardo Cabellero (Brisbane), Belinda Frame and Patrick Barrett (NSW); Shannon Kyrwood and David Proudlock (Western Australia); Bernadette Kosandiak and John Low (South Australia); Alexandra Karagiannakis and Emily Jade Marsden (Tasmania); Matthew Reuter and Judi Robinson (Victoria); Riordan Wang (ACT); and Tasman Gould Heyes (Northern Territory).
Many cities have unveiled thematic artistic statues - in Cedar Rapids, Iowa it was painted statues of Grant Wood's painting "American Gothic;" in Chicago and elsewhere it was lifesize cows; in Lexington, Kentucky it was statues of horses; in St. Paul, Minn. it was "Peanuts on Parade" - five-foot-high statues of Snoopy. Here's a story summarizing the trend.
Come WYD, it will be 33 life-sized statues of Jesus Christ created by more than 40 Australian artists decorating the streets of Sydney. Here's a story on the JesusWalks art display.
Director and curator Helena McCarthy said the exhibition aimed to "demonstrate the connections between young people as pilgrims, young people as artists and young people in need".
The exhibition will be open for the duration of World Youth Day, which takes place in Sydney from July 15-20, and at the conclusion the pieces will be auctioned off, with 100 per cent of the proceeds being donated to Father Chris Riley's Youth Off The Streets program.
Yes, I have a Facebook account, and after negotiating the registration process for xt3, I now have an account there as well. xt3.com is the social network set up specifically for World Youth Day. Feel free to stop by and say "hi."
A similar social network was set up for WYD in Cologne, allowing youth who met at WYD to communicate with one another after the event, but this WYD will be the most technologically advanced one yet.
Those who were asking about how to receive the Pope's daily messages, it's my understanding that those will be available for those signing up for wireless service with Australia's wireless company Telstra, which is one of WYD's official sponsors. Telstra is offering special wireless packages for pilgrims. There may be other ways to receive those messages, but I am not currently aware of how to do that. I'll post more as I know.
This The Age story shares some promising news prior to WYD - the fact that interest in the Catholic priesthood is on the rise in Australia. The story doesn't attempt to examine why there is an increased interest. If there's an increase in interest now, just wait until after the Pope's visit.
As evidenced by the Pope's visit to D.C. and New York in April, the Archdiocese of New York has seen a boost in interest following the Papal trip. This Poughkeepsie Journal piece tells that story.
(Sources: National Catholic Register http://pope2008.typepad.com/weblog/)
1000's of Pacific Islanders head for World Youth Day
Around four thousand young people from across the Pacific are coming to Sydney this month to take part in World Youth Day and see the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict the 16th.
Presenter: Sonia Randhawa
Speakers: Mele Tuitu'u Tauufa, Tonga participant; Father Spatz Silva, secretary to the Archbishop and part of the Samoa organising committee
(Sources: ABC Radio)