Information Bulletin 81


This Information Bulletin is also available to download as a PDF: 200610.pdf
{slide=Introduction} Dear Brothers in Ministry,
It is not unusual for many of us to experience some level of frustration, perhaps helplessness, when thinking about how to engage our young Catholics. We see large numbers in our schools, but find few of them in Church. Disturbing, it may be, and yet …
World Youth Day 2008 provides a wonderful opportunity to re-focus our hopes for our youth here in Australia and around the world. For many young folk—and even the not so young—WYD 2008 is more than just ‘an event’. It promises a conversion of heart and mind, ensuring a new trajectory for God, for neighbour, and for the Church. In so doing, it will anchor ecclesially the deep-seated spiritual quest in the young.
Earlier this year at the Sydney Clergy Conference, Fr Ulrich Hennes, a key organiser of WYD in Cologne, insisted that WYD is not just for the youth: “It is also,” he said, “for the conversion of cardinals, bishops, and priests!” An engaging speaker, he was particularly compelling and practical when addressing ‘the fruits’ one might expect from World Youth Day.
There are many reasons for us to be energetically behind WYD2008, not the least of which is that it begins to address in a unique way something of the awkwardness we encounter in parish life. Enclosed are excellent reasons to support WYD, from Bishop Anthony, some priests, and a young layman. WYD will be a rare blessing for all; let’s support it unreservedly.
With personal best wishes.
Frank Devoy, Director
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Fr Ian McGinnity}


Parish priests by their very nature are generally realistic about pastoral endeavours as they are often the interface between church ideals and practise.  Some priests have been somewhat wary of past World Youth Days’, perhaps for a whole host of reasons.
World Youth Day, however, brings with it marvellous opportunities to evangelise and touch the hearts and minds of young people in our nation and from around the world. Particularly that growing number of young baptised Catholics who do not participate in the life of the local church today.  As cynical as we may have become to these days from afar we do have an once-in-a-lifetime moment to share a powerful Christian and genuinely Catholic message not only to the young people of our Church but also to young people in Australia.
In addition it is hoped it will also be a means of rejuvenation for the whole Australian Catholic Church.  To witness and experience the vitality of the Church in young people from many different cultures across the world and to reflect on our own faith and lived experience of Church can only be beneficial if we enter into this with the right spirit-the Holy Spirit.
Having sat on the Community's Advisory Committee for Sydney World Youth Day 08 I have some insight that the logistics and organisation for such an event are huge and it is critical that all sectors of the Church work together.  I encourage the priests of Australia to assist as much as possible in our already busy lives!  Hopefully the benefits will far outweigh the inconvenience.
Fr Ian McGinnity, Quakers Hill, Chairman, National Council of Priests
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Fr Chris Ryan mgl}
Fr Tom Rosica, the Coordinator of the 2002 World Youth Day in Canada explains that Pope John Paul II once said to him that World Youth Day was actually a pretext for many other important things.  That could seem like a bit of an odd comment, but I think what the Pope meant was that through the World Youth Day event young people are able to engage with the central mysteries of our faith, to connect or reconnect with the Church, and to get involved in the mission of the Church in practical ways.
It’s an amazing opportunity for priests to assist and mentor these young people in their journey, and to be renewed themselves as they witness the growth in faith and action of these young people from around the world.
Fr Chris Ryan mgl, Coordinator, Journey of World Youth Day Cross & Icon of our Lady in Asia and Oceania
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Fr Paul Winter} World Youth Day is an event like no other in the history of the Australian Church. We will all have the opportunity to experience a great international gathering of young people; to experience their faith and to share our faith with them. However, World Youth Day is not simply for the young. It will be a graced-filled time of enormous potential, an invitation from Christ to all our people to begin again a profound renewal of parish life. As priests it can be our joy and privilege to encourage this tremendous gift of the power of the Holy Spirit in our young, and our young-at-heart parishioners, and to receive it anew in our own hearts; from this day and many years beyond 2008.
Activ8! (Acts 1:8 – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”)
Fr Paul Winter ofm cap, Coffs Harbour, NSW
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Fr Matt Digges} I thought that I was mad going to Köln last year with a group of 40 mostly indigenous young people from the Kimberley and Top End, especially when I was freezing during the camp out at Marienfeld with a million people, waiting for Pope Benedict to show.
Last week, however, I spent time (travelling to Alice Springs for the celebrations there) with some of the young people who had been on the Köln pilgrimage. They were positive, realistic, and encouraging, fired up about faith and church. They filled my head with stories of others of our group and the continuing influence WYD is having.
I can only wonder what the result will be with WYD being closer to home! Young people from Balgo have already asked me to put their names down and offered to help prepare others for the experience.  I don’t  think  we  will get another opportunity like this to connect with youth of the world, and even those in our own parish!
Fr Matt Digges, Balgo, WA
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Mr Devett O'Brien} On its own, WYD is simply an event. And as an event, it is asking of us all a massive amount of effort, when so many, especially Priests, are already overloaded to breaking point.  But if it is seen as the beginning point of an ongoing faith formation journey for young people, then it becomes a vital catalyst for engaging, forming and evangelising many young Australians.  The true fruits of WYD will come from the effort at the grassroots, in parishes and schools around the country and this can't succeed without your support. So as one young person, and a representative of many more, please get behind WYD in your parish and your diocese for the event and its lead-up, but more importantly, for the period after WYD which will make or break the success of this effort in transforming the hearts and minds of young people. The young people of Australia need you.
Mr Devett O'Brien, National YCS Worker
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Fr Richard Tomelty} My first experience of world youth day came in Santiago de Compostela Spain, 1989. There as a 17 year old in the company of 62 other young people from around Australia I heard the call of Pope John Paul II, "don’t be afraid to be holy". These words made a deep impression on me and opened up something within me. I entered the seminary to begin my priestly formation in 1993.
For me world youth day is a moment where young people can come together to live an experience of faith. It can be a life changing experience. I have seen young people finding their call in life, people leaving drugs and alcohol and other destructive situations, as a result of their pilgrim experience. I believe world youth day 2008 in Sydney is a great opportunity for priests to see the Church alive among the young -- to be energised by and to accompany young people in their lived experience with God. It will be a great event for the Church of Australia and one that demands the fullest of support.
Fr Richard Tomelty, Cathedral, Broome WA
{/slide} {slide=World Youth Day 2008 - Bishop Anthony Fisher op}
The recent World Youth Day DVD "get with the spirit" is making quite an impact around the country and even overseas. The excitement of the young Austral-ians in the opening scene, when Sydney is announced by the Pope as the venue, is infectious. As the camera pans back and we see an endless crowd of young people at the Cologne WYD it hits the Australian viewer that this is going to be big, very big, in fact the biggest thing the Australian Church has ever attempted.
The recent "Spirit of Generation Y" report highlights the problem for which "get with the spirit" is the solution. It found that young Catholics are disaffiliating from the Church at an alarming rate. They are not just absent from the pews: an increasing number no longer even identify as Catholics or indeed with God. What are we to do about that?
World Youth Day is a twenty year plus pastoral strategy for engaging young people in every aspect of the life of the Church and through them renewing Church and society. Phase one has already begun: logistical preparations, evangelisation, catechesis and prayer with our young people. A flashy website and an electronic pilgrimage. Catechetical materials for schools. Parish and chaplaincy support materials. Posters and prayer cards. Briefings and national tours. Local prayer and celebrations. The Journey of the WYD Cross and Icon to every corner of Australia. The DVD and much else besides. All because WYD is not magic: its fruitfulness will depend crucially on how well we prepare our young people now.
Phase two will be in July 2008 when perhaps 150,000 young people from around the world join a similar number of young Australians for a weeklong pilgrimage of faith and encounter with Jesus Christ, his Spirit and his Church. This will be a time for learning about and celebrating faith, for liturgy and catechesis, festival and fun. Many will come to spend time  in  parishes  in  the  "Days  in  the  Dioceses"  all around Australia in the week before. By the end of WYD week well over half a million are expected to gather with the Pope for his arrival, the Stations of the Cross through the city, the all-night Vigil and the Final Mass.
All for what? For God. For our young people. For our Church. In Phase 3 when we will reap the fruits of World Youth Day in our mission to the future. We pray that WYD will connect many more young people with life in Christ, will help them rediscover the Word of God and the sacraments and so strengthen their faith, will energize them to be witnesses to Christ in a new century. We look forward to an increase in vocations, reinvigorated youth ministries, and a strengthening of the Church in all its works. A fresh start for the generation to come.
At the end of our DVD a young medical student Jovina Graham puts it this way: "we will be the focus of this Church which is 2,000 years old, that has seen so many historical events, that has spread so much love and compassion everywhere, and its going to be focused in Sydney Australia and you will not want to miss it!"
+Anthony Fisher op, Sydney Archdiocese (World Youth Day Coordinator)
Father Peter Brock’s latest book:
“YOU MUST COME AWAY: A retreat for clergy and others”
Spectrum Press, available (free delivery) from Catholic Bookshop, Canberra 02 62019888
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  • Created: 01 October 2006
  • Modified: 29 April 2009