Portuguese pilgrims dance ahead of the World Youth Day celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal Portuguese pilgrims dance ahead of the World Youth Day celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal  (AFP or licensors)

WYD: Australian and Canadian pilgrims prepare for Lisbon

Young pilgrims from Canada and Australia begin the journey toward the upcoming World Youth Day in Lisbon, as huge numbers from various of the countries' dioceses look ahead to the week-long celebration.

By Francesca Merlo

Over 3,000 Australian pilgrims have set out for Portugal to take part in the highly anticipated World Youth Day. This vibrant contingent represents one of the country's largest groups ever to attend the international event, with strong representation from the Archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne, each bringing over 500 pilgrims.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse, chair of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity, and Ministry, expressed his joy at witnessing the enthusiastic response of young people to Pope Francis' invitation.

“It’s almost four decades since St Pope John Paul II instituted these great events and they continue to inspire the young Catholics of the world,” he said. “With Lisbon hosting the first World Youth Day since 2019, and obviously the first since the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see the enthusiasm remains among our young adults.”

Eighteen Australian bishops are also part of the journey, actively involved in leading catechesis sessions to guide and nurture the spiritual formation of the pilgrims.

A highlight of the event will be on 1 August when Australian pilgrims gather for a special national component amid the vast international celebration. Studies have shown that World Youth Day has a profound and lasting impact on young adults, leaving an indelible mark on their faith journey for years to come.

The pilgrimage promises to be a transformative and life-changing experience for the participants, reaffirming their commitment to living as faithful disciples of Christ.

Pilgrimage from Canada

Likewise, according to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, over, 5,000 Canadian youth are eagerly preparing to gather in Lisbon, to take part in World Youth Day alongside Pope Francis.

The first international WYD was held in 1986, and Canada had the honor of hosting the event in 2002, with Pope Saint John Paul II making a pilgrimage to Toronto.

The Canadian delegation, representing provinces like Ontario and Quebec, is set to participate in various activities, including talks led by prominent Catholic speakers, prayer sessions, divine worship, and a vibrant cultural festival showcasing talented youth from worldwide.

The pilgrimage holds special significance for Canadian Indigenous young people following Pope Francis' historic 2022 Apostolic Visit to Canada, during which he sought to foster healing and reconciliation.

World Youth Day 2023 promises to be a momentous and inspiring event that will leave a lasting impact on the faith journeys of the young pilgrims who attend.

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20 July 2023, 17:52