New Zealand young people have won the right to be official co-hosts for the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney.
Last month Chris Duthie-Jung from the archdiocesan youth office and Palmerston North’s youth advocate David Mullin attended the international gathering in Rome of World Youth Day (‘WYD’) organisers.
The meeting was hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity which oversees the World Youth Days and was a debriefing exercise of the World Youth Day held in Cologne, Germany, last August, and a preparation for the next in Sydney. Representatives from 80 countries and 50 ecclesial movements were there.
As well as finalising the review of Cologne and looking forward to Sydney, participants gave feedback on Sydney’s 2008 planning and celebrated the handover from Cologne to Sydney of the WYD cross.
The New Zealanders made a plug for more explicit planning for justice and service components in the programme for July 2008.
They noted that there was no mention of these issues in the presentation of a very thorough plan for 2008 and when they raised this fact in the meeting there was a supportive round of applause for the idea.
Organisers have hailed the meeting as a success. Logistical and pastoral issues relating to the Cologne WYD were aired and the Sydney presentations seemed to address many of the participants’ concerns.
For New Zealand, the meeting was especially relevant. This will be the first time New Zealand is able to send a significant number of pilgrims to this event. It is the first and probably the only time New Zealand will have an opportunity to host pilgrims en route to Sydney.
It is the first opportunity New Zealand dioceses will have to host Days of Encounter, the WYD Cross and Icon of Our Lady, and many associated opportunities for different groups to gather and celebrate the young church.
Initially New Zealand delegates had been informed that the country would not have the opportunity to host the official Days of Encounter component due to precedent. But with the support of all six diocesan bishops and the pushing of the Sydney organisers, the PCL has now approved New Zealand participation as hosts in this significant experience.
The WYD experience has four distinct parts:
• Days of Preparation beginning on Palm Sunday 2006;
• Days of Encounter from early July 2008 – dioceses of Australia and New Zealand;
• Days in Sydney World Youth Day 15-20 July 2008 – Sydney, Australia;
• Days of Reflection – 21 July to Palm Sunday 2009.