Think big for WYD: NZ bishop

An Auckland Bishop has issued a pastoral letter urging young Catholics to "think big" in their preparations for Sydney's World Youth Day in order to "reap the fruits" of the event.

NZ Catholic reports that Bishop Pat Dunn has issued a pastoral letter throwing his support behind next World Youth Day (WYD) in Sydney.

The bishop's exhortation comes after the visit to four New Zealand dioceses by World Youth Day coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney.

The event, scheduled for July 2008, has three phases, the Bishop of Auckland explained: the preparation phase, now until June 2008; the World Youth Day celebrations in July 2008; and 2008 and beyond, the time to "reap the fruits" of the event.

"As we now begin this first phase of our preparations for World Youth Day in Sydney, I urge you to try to think big, and be very generous," Bishop Dunn said.

Bishop Dunn reiterated the message that the festival will never be more accessible than 2008 and offers people a chance to share Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

"For all who attend, it will be the experience of a lifetime," he said. "Even in old age, they will remember this encounter with the successor of Peter and with hundreds of thousands of fellow Catholics from around the world."

Meanwhile, AsiaNews reports that the fourth Asian Youth Day (AYD) is getting under way today in Hong Kong based on the theme: "Youth: hope of Asian families."

A spin-off of the WYD, the AYD is an inter-religious gathering of young people from all over Asia inaugurated in Thailand in 1999. Organisers are expecting over 1000 young Asians to participate.

Sirikanya Kulawanichnun, a Thai participant who runs the Catholic Youth Commission's Public Relations Committee, told AsiaNews: "I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend all four AYD events organised so far."

Ms Kulawanichnun says she plans to bring to the AYD the deep-rooted Thai tradition of respecting parents and the elderly.

"For this fourth WYD, I have the task to describe, to friends of other countries, the Thai culture and our family values. To explain this, I chose the Songkran Festival that falls from 13 to 15 April, the feast for the Thai New Year," she said.

"14 April is the 'day for the elderly', and our culture treats elderly people with great respect. There is a ceremony and water is poured on the hands of an elderly person, to ask for his blessing on his children.

"It is the most beautiful feast of the year, not least because everyone goes back to their birthplace to be together. So elderly people see their children and grandchildren, and vice versa," she said.

Thanachart Tresaksirsakul, a Buddhist youth who is the chairman of the Youth Catholic in School (YCS) said he plans to talk at the AYD about the strain urbanisation places on families.

The young student of the Assumption Thonburi School, run by St Gabriel's Congregation, said: "My family is Buddhist, my parents take me and my sister to the temple every weekend. On special occasions like birthdays and religious feasts, we offer food to the monks.

"When I was elected chairman of the YCS, my father immediately warned me: 'Be careful, they want to convert you to Catholicism'. I want to become Catholic and I would like to study catechism at school. I think that this would help me to live a better life in every way."

Bishop: "Try to think big" for World Youth Day 2008 (NZ Catholic, 25/7/06)
Asian Youth Day: Catholic, Buddhist youth from Thailand share experiences (AsiaNews 27/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Auckland Catholic diocese
Asian Youth Day
World Youth Day 2008

Bishop Fisher unveils WYD plan (CathNews, 10/7/06)

28 Jul 2006