Irish pilgrims in final preparations for World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia

10 Jul 2008

10 July 2008

Irish pilgrims in final preparations for World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia

WYD theme for 2008: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.’ Acts 1:8

The last of the Irish World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims will depart later this week for World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia from the 15th -20th July. More than 800 young Irish Catholics supported by eight bishops including Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin are attending this year’s World Youth Day in Sydney.

World Youth Day is a week-long series of events attended by the Pope and hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the globe. It has become the largest single mobilisation of young people in the world. The week culminates in a Final Mass celebrated by the Pope on the last day (the actual World Youth Day). World Youth Day is an invitation from the Pope to the youth of the world to celebrate their faith around a particular theme. The WYD08 theme, received from Pope Benedict XVI is: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.’ Acts 1:8

Groups of young people from all over Ireland together with their pilgrimage leaders have spent the last few days making their way to different parts of Australia where they will take part in the Days in the Diocese programme. This part of the programme sees the young Irish staying in Catholic parishes with host families in different parts of Australia such as Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and in parts of New Zealand. During this time the Irish pilgrims will take part in a range of social, cultural and faith activities organised by the local parishioners.

On Sunday 13th July the Irish pilgrims will leave their host parishes behind and make the final leg of their journey to Sydney for the actual World Youth Day events. The World Youth Day festivities will begin formally on Monday 14th July with registration followed by the opening Mass on Tuesday 15th July. Each morning there will be catechesis [teaching session] with a bishop from the worldwide Church. Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Sydney Harbour by boat on Thursday 17th July where pilgrims will welcome him at the waterfront. WYD 2008 will mark the first visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to Australia. On Friday 18th July, Sydney will come to a halt for a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross. On Saturday 19th July more than half a million people are expected to make the pilgrim walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Randwick Racecourse for night prayer with Pope Benedict XVI and a night vigil. On Sunday 20th July Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the WYD closing Mass where the venue for the next World Youth Day will be announced.


Further information:
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
Kathy Tynan, Communications Officer (086 817 5674)

Notes for Editors:

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.

This year’s World Youth Day event in Australia will be attended by a number of Irish bishops: Cardinal Seán Brady – Armagh; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin – Dublin; Bishop Jim Moriarty – Kildare and Leighlin; Bishop Donal Murray – Limerick; Bishop Michael Smith – Meath; Bishop Seamus Freeman – Ossory; Bishop Denis Brennan – Ferns; and Bishop Raymond Field – Dublin.

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, Toronto 2002 and Cologne in 2005.

Key WYD 2008 Statistics:

  • Up to 225,000 registered pilgrims are expected to take part in WYD 2008 events each day, including 125,000 international visitors.
  • 100,000 Australian pilgrims are expected, including 40,000 from the greater Sydney area.
  • An estimated 8,000 volunteers will assist
  • An estimated 2,000 clergy will be present
  • An estimated 700 Cardinals and Bishops will be present
  • Between 3,000 – 5,000 media are expected to cover the event
  • 3.5 million meals will be served to pilgrims
  • 100,000 will sleep in 700 schools and parishes
  • Up to 500,000 people are expected to attend the Final Mass at Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park
  • The four official WYD08 languages are: English, French, Italian and Spanish

WYD 2008 logo
The logo distils the essence of the theme for WYD08 and highlights the promise made by Jesus to set fire upon the Earth by the power of the Holy Spirit which inspires the pilgrims who come to Australia, to believe and witness to Him.

Central to the logo is the Cross raised in victory, representing Christ and the life of witness which the Holy Spirit enables. It is the passion of the heart of Christ, poured out into the world from the Cross, which consumes the young people of Sydney, of Australia and of the world. The whiteness of the Cross indicates that Jesus is the light of the world. The flames of the logo represent the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in tongues of fire. They evoke the Sacrament of Confirmation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The colours of red, orange and yellow flowing throughout symbolise the Trinity and Unity of God. They also bring to mind the colours of the Australian outback.

The blue of the logo represents the oceans that surround Australia, the waters of Baptism, the sea of humanity and Mary, full of grace.

The Opera House is the symbol of Sydney, the host city for WYD08.