Pope Benedict to meet young people up close in three very different settings
26 May 2008
Sydney: May 26, 08. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will meet some of Sydney’s disadvantaged young people during World Youth Day Sydney 2008 (WYD08), organisers confirmed today
With 50 days to go until WYD08 begins, organisers also revealed that the Holy Father will share a private meal with 12 young people from around the world and hold a special Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral with invited seminarians and young religious people.
WYD08 Coordinator, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, said these occasions would allow the Holy Father to connect with young people from different walks of life on a personal level.
“The lunch will be a very special occasion for those 12 young people, especially the two Australians chosen to represent the host country,” Bishop Fisher said.
Thirty year old Teresa Wilson from Melbourne, a longtime volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society, said she felt blessed to be chosen to break bread with the Pope.
“It’s an incredible honour to speak directly with the Holy Father and to meet young people from every continent at Australia’s World Youth Day,” Ms Wilson said.
Craig Ashby, a 21 year old Gamilaroi man and Sydney University student, said he was thrilled and proud to represent Australian and indigenous youth.
“Who would have thought a young bloke from Walgett would get the chance to have lunch with the Pope one day and represent all young Aussies?” Mr Ashby said.
Bishop Fisher said the 12 young people would include two people from each of the five continents plus one representative from Papua New Guinea and one from New Zealand.
“The mass for seminarians and young religious in formation will be a special event for those who have chosen to devote their lives to God and to the Church,” he said.
“During the ceremony, the Holy Father will also bless and dedicate the cathedral’s new altar. It will be a legacy for future generations and a reminder of this great event.”
Bishop Fisher said the Holy Father had especially requested a meeting with some of Sydney’s disadvantaged young people.
“Those he will meet are young people alienated from the many positive messages that WYD promotes. This will not be a one-off experience for them, but something that links them into the ongoing healing mission of the Catholic Church.”
Bishop Fisher said the Holy Father would travel to an inner city suburb to meet the disadvantaged young people.
Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit to Australia for WYD08. The event is expected to attract up to 500,000 people at some events from 15 to 20 July.