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Impressions from Sydney



World Youth Day

25/07/2008: Australia - Photo gallery

World Youth Day finished up being an extraordinary success. Everyone is praising the excellent welcome that the city of Sydney gave to the pilgrims from all over the world. Especially admired was the order, the cleanliness, the quality of all of the organized ceremonies. In the streets one could see the satisfaction of the citizens at the sight of all of the visiting young people. The attention was outstanding. The young people left fond memories of their joy, spontaneity and public conduct.

Estimates have been given of around 225,000 young people from 170 countries being in attendance at this World Youth Day. Of those, about 100,000 were Australian and 125,000 from other parts of the world. It was a major event and the most multinational one even known in Australia, surpassing the figures of the Olympics of 2000.

More data: some 8,000 volunteers helped out with the activities; there were 4,000 priests and deacons, 429 bishops and 26 cardinals present. Three and a half million meals were distributed among the pilgrims. About 120,000 young people slept in 400 schools and parishes and 25,000 in Sydney’s Olympic Park. The transportation companies added 200 buses to their regular service.

Australia has approximately 5.12 million Catholics – 26% of the population – distributed in 1,363 parishes. There are 20 territorial dioceses, four dioceses of Eastern Rite Catholics and one military diocese. The major region, Sydney, with its four dioceses, has 1.5 million Catholics. In the archdiocese of Sydney there are almost 600,000 Catholics in 141 parishes served by 480 priests.

Australia has already received three papal visits before: in 1970 Paul VI, in 1986 John Paul II who returned in 1995 on the occasion of the beatification of Mary MacKillop.

The media service of World Youth Day

The young people of today belong to a generation born in the age of electronics, the Internet and mass communication. On visiting the press room of World Youth Day in the convention center of Sydney, one can appreciate the value that the media gave to the event. There were representatives from all over the world, who were using the most advanced communication technology. They calculated that 500 million people followed the events on television. This time Sydney wasn’t offering sports events, but rather the joy and life of young Christians.

Numerous Internet companies provided interactive Networks among the pilgrims – an example: ebenedict.org, produced by Towards 2008, launched by the Association of Catholic Australian Students. A few days after starting up it had already registered a quarter of a million hits.

A young experience of the Christian faith

I’ve shared in several morning prayer groups, catechetical groups, the Eucharist, the processional songs, the veneration of the icon and the cross, the reflection at the centers of spirituality and mission, the community prayer in the parks, gardens and streets of the city. The retreat houses accommodated the young people and offered different activities, for example, concerts, talks, power point presentations, debate groups, Eucharist, times of adoration, veneration of relics, meditation, open forum, workshops, and confession. In the official guide for World Youth Day there were more than 300 activities from which to choose from the 15th to the 20th of July. The difficulty was, precisely, making a personal selection from an offering so varied and interesting

H. AMEstaún

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