More places needed as 25,000 Americans expected for WYD08

After a visit to the US to promote World Youth Day 2008, Bishop Anthony Fisher says Sydney might need more places to house the expected 25,000 American participants to the event.

"But from what they're telling me now, 25,000 may be a very conservative number," the Bishop said after a meeting with Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, chairman of the US Bishops' Subcommittee on Youth and Young Adults, and other US planners for World Youth Day, according to a Catholic News Service report.

"So I'm going back looking for more" places to house World Youth Day pilgrims from the US and other countries, Bishop Fisher said.

Catholic News Service reports that Bishop Fisher, who has already visited the Philippines, South Korea and New Zealand to encourage participation in World Youth Day (WYD), also has stops planned in Spain, France and Ireland and is scheduled to meet in Fiji with the bishops of the Pacific Islands.

The New Zealand bishops have thrown their support behind WYD following Bishop Fisher's visit, with one Bishop in Auckland issuing a pastoral letter urging young Catholics to "think big" in their preparations for Sydney's WYD.

The theme for the 2008 gathering is "You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You; and You Will Be My Witnesses," taken from Chapter 1, Verse 8 of the Acts of the Apostles. The Pontifical Council for the Laity, which organises the international World Youth Days, set similar themes related to the Holy Spirit and mission for 2006 and 2007 preparatory study sessions.

In 2008, participants in the Days in the Dioceses might stay in Australia or New Zealand. "The 24 dioceses of Australia will be joined by the six New Zealand dioceses in hosting" WYD visitors, Bishop Fisher said.

In late July, the WYD organisers launched a 15-minute video highlighting Australia's charms and the spiritual and cultural benefits of participation in World Youth Day.

"My main message [on the US stop] is that Australia might seem very far away, but it is very closely connected personally and culturally to the States," the Bishop said. "And this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Australia."

But Bishop Fisher also is excited about the effects of WYD on Australians of all ages.

"It's a great blessing to us in Australia," he said. When Australians see hundreds of thousands of young Catholics energised by their faith, he added, "it will be a real evangelising moment."

Young people called to prepare for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney (Catholic News Service, 1/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day 2008

Think big for WYD: NZ bishop (CathNews, 28/7/06)
Bishop Fisher unveils WYD plan (CathNews, 10/7/06)

2 Aug 2006