More than 1000 young people from across Australia will be jetting off to Panama this week to attend World Youth Day, which begins on January 22. Source: ACBC Media Blog.
Malcolm Hart, director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Office for Youth, is helping coordinate the bishops’ pilgrimage of approximately 700 people across 12 groups from throughout Australia.
“There’s another 300 people independently attending, so that’s over 1000 Australians who will be at World Youth Day in Panama this year,” he said.
The theme for this year’s pilgrimage is: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38).
“The welcome of the Pope, Stations of the Cross and closing Mass with Pope Francis will be significant highlights of World Youth Day. I also believe the energy and excitement of the Panama culture and people will be a highlight for all of our pilgrims,” Mr Hart said.
“The themes for this year’s World Youth Day have all been about Mary’s story and Mary’s call to be the Mother of Christ. The Marian theme runs throughout all of the pilgrimages.”
Mr Hart said approximately half of the Australian contingent would visit Mexico City to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world. He said most groups are flying out today and tomorrow.
New South Wales will send the largest contingent, with most participants from the greater Sydney area.
Townsville priest Fr Mick Lowcock, from Mt Isa’s Good Shepherd Parish, will lead a group of 21 pilgrims to Panama, including seminarians from Townsville and Toowoomba.
“I think World Youth Day gives young people a great confidence in being Catholic. They see millions of other young Catholic people and so they feel proud and realise they are part of something big, whereas here they are in a minority,” Fr Lowcock said.
“It gives them a deeper sense of their own faith journey as well.”
Young Australians get set for World Youth Day Panama (ACBC Media Blog)