Bishop Donal McKeown leads first Irish World Youth pilgrimage

09 Aug 2005

Press Release

9 August 2005

Bishop Donal McKeown leads first

Irish World Youth Day pilgrimage

* Launch of pastoral message from Irish bishops to young people
* Special WYD web feature at
* WYD theme for 2005: “We have come to worship Him (Mt 2,2)”

The first Irish pilgrimage of over 110 young people, from the dioceses
of Down and Connor and Armagh, departs today for World Youth Day (WYD)
in Cologne next week.  

Bishop Donal McKeown, Chair of the Bishops’ Commission on Vocations and
Pastoral Outreach to Youth, will launch the bishops’ pastoral message
Building Faith in Young People before departing Dublin Port at 9pm this
evening for Cologne with the group.

About 1,500 young Irish Catholics – supported by 8 bishops – are attending WYD
over the next week.  The event is expected to draw one million people worldwide.  
WYD 2005 marks Pope Benedict XVI’s first official visit overseas since becoming
Pope in April.

Speaking today in advance of the launch of the pastoral message Bishop McKeown
said: “Bishops are conscious that Ireland, North and South, has changed in so
many ways in the last two decades. That means that Church structures have to
change if we are to give people a chance to hear the Gospel. If they do not
hear it, they will not be able to believe. We cannot rely on old structures
in a new age.

“Today’s pastoral message by the bishops is intended as a word of encouragement
to young people who are seeking for truth and integrity – and to all those
generous adults who share their journey. It is intended to acknowledge what is
already being done by some many dedicated people, and to recognise our frailties
as Church.  We hope that it will help all of us to find new ways forward if we
are to build up young people’s faith in themselves and as well as their faith in
a God who has faith in them.”


Notes for Editors
* See for a special web feature on World
Youth Day 2005.

* The atmosphere for World Youth Day events is festive and focuses on prayer
and growing in Christian faith. Every day there will be Mass, prayers and teaching
(catechesis)on essential aspects of the Catholic faith as well as music and
cultural events.

* World Youth Day 2005 divides into two phases:
PHASE ONE: August 11th  – 16th        
‘Days of Encounter’: Irish Catholics will meet other WYD participants and stay
with German families in parishes across the country. Special activities will be
organised daily including Social Action Days, the chance to get involved in
practical hands-on projects.

PHASE TWO: August 16th – 21st Timetable (provisional)
Tuesday August 16th: Arrival of World Youth Day groups in Cologne.
Wednesday August 17th: Catechesis, Mass.
Thursday August 18th: Catechesis.
Mid-day: Arrival of Pope Benedict XVI.   The Holy Father will travel down the
Rhine to meet WYD groups at Rheinwiesen wharf. Pope Benedict then travels back
to Cologne via the river and visits Cologne Cathedral.
Friday August 19th:  10.30 am: The Holy Father meets Horst Kohler and at midday
visits Synagogue. WYD Programme: Catechesis. Way of the Cross, World Youth Day
Cross events.
Saturday August 20th:  Pope meets civic and political leaders including Gerhard
Schroder. Meeting with Muslim representatives. Pilgrimage to vigil site.  The
Pope joins young people for prayer vigil ending at 10.30 pm.
Sunday August 21st:  Closing Mass with the Pope. 6.45 pm: Pope Benedict XVI
leaves for Rome.

* The highlight this year is that this is the first with Pope Benedict XVI presiding.
This year’s World Youth Day event in Cologne will be attended by a number of Irish
bishops including, Dublin: Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Martin, and Bishop
Raymond Field; Meath: Bishop Michael Smith; Waterford and Lismore: Bishop William Lee;
Raphoe: Bishop Philip Boyce; Kildare and Leighlin: Bishop James Moriarty; Limerick:
Bishop Donal Murray and Down and Connor: Bishop Donal McKeown.

* WYD has become a legacy and living relic of the vision of Pope John Paul II which
was to invite young people to participate in the very heart of the Church. Since
1985 millions of young people have participated in these great events. In 1985 as
part of International Youth Year the Pope invited young people of Italy to meet
with him. Around 500 000 young people turned up, including many from outside of
Italy. Pope John Paul II immediately recognised the potential of such gatherings.
He went on to keep these “appointments” with young people. WYD has since been held
in Denver 1993, Manila 1995, Paris 1997, Rome 2000, and Toronto 2002.

* The programme of WYD is always similar. Depending on costs, young pilgrims arrive
at WYD using a variety of means, bus, boat, car, train or aeroplane! After a huge
opening ceremony, young people have a daily programme consisting of catechesis
sessions, which are talks given by bishops and Cardinals to young people on a
particular theme.

* The theme for this year is taken from the Gospel account of the Magi – “We come
to adore him”. This is followed by Mass. Each afternoon, there is usually a large
urban space where a festival of faith takes place. It consists of a variety music,
dance, meditation, talks, faith opportunities and wares – albeit not under the one
roof. On the Friday there is usually a Way of the Cross and then on the Saturday
the Pope holds a vigil of prayer with young people, followed by an overnight camp
outside and morning Mass.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)