Youth make biggest ever pilgrimage to leave Australia

More than 2000 young Australians are leaving for Germany this week for the World Youth Day festival in Cologne for what the Bishops Conference believes is the largest religious pilgrimage ever to leave Australian shores.

A statement from the Bishops Conference says the 2200 young pilgrims from right across the nation will embark on various pilgrimages which ultimately take them to Cologne, Germany for the 20th World Youth Day celebrations.

The highlight of the week-long festival in Cologne will be the final Mass, presided over by Pope Benedict XVI.

During that Mass, the Holy Father will officially announce whether Sydney has been successful in its bid to host the next World Youth Day in 2008.

Selina Hasham of Harvest Pilgrimages, said the young people travelling to Cologne come from every state and territory in Australia and represent every Catholic Diocese in the country.

"They also represent many church movements, groups and orders," she said. "And for the first time, a group of indigenous pilgrims from the Top End will travel as an independent group led by Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome."

Cardinal George Pell, three Archbishops, 19 Bishops, about 90 priests, 15 religious and numerous lay leaders will accompany the Australian contingent.

Supporting the WYD event in the lead-up to Cologne has been Australian Test Cricketer and World Youth Day Ambassador, Matthew Hayden who wrote an open letter to young people urging them to make the trip to Germany.

"For thousands of young people, World Youth Day has been a life changing experience," he wrote. "It is not just a religious event, but the World Youth Day is an opportunity for youth to grow and be challenged on every level, morally, spiritually and culturally.

"I have great optimism that the Cologne World Youth Day experience will have a positive bearing on many young Australians, our future leaders."

Catholic youth form biggest pilgrimage ever to leave Australia (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 3/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day - Australia
World Youth Day - International
World Youth Day - Vatican

400 Melbourne youth head to Cologne to meet new Pope (CathNews 3/8/05)
Sydney WYD champagne corks await word from Pope (CathNews 2/8/05)
Vatican journo claims 2008 WYD 'winner is Sydney' (CathNews 1/8/05)
Terror threat changes WYD plans for Sydney pilgrims (CathNews 28/7/05)
WYD preparations enter home stretch (CathNews 20/7/05)
World Youth Day cross begins final push for Cologne (CathNews 7/7/05)
Pell leads bid for Sydney World Youth Day (CathNews 5/7/05)
Pope's trip to World Youth Day officially announced (CathNews 22/6/05)
Cardinal urges pope to keep World Youth Day commitment (CathNews 3/3/05)
German organizers further plans for World Youth Day (CathNews 7/1/05)

Jesuit Pilgrims set out to World Youth Day (Jesuits Australia 3/8/05)
Young Tasmanians leave for European pilgrimage (ABC Tasmania 3/8/05)
US youth join in social action projects before WYD (Catholic News Agency 3/8/05)
No Visa to see the Pope (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 3/8/05)

4 Aug 2005