MORE than 60 young Tasmanians are looking forward to meeting the new pope when they attend World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany from August 16-21.
The group will take off on August 3 for the pilgrimage of a lifetime.
Travelling with them will be Archbishop Adrian Doyle of Hobart and two chaplains, Fr Richard Ross from Launceston parish and Fr John Harmon from Mersey Leven parish, as well as Tasmania’s Catholic Youth Ministries co-ordinator Belinda Chapman.
Belinda said this year’s pilgrimage had attracted more than double the number of Tasmanians who went to World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada in 2002.
She said World Youth Day would be the next pope’s first big event and the group was looking forward to being part of that.
Belinda also had another good reason to celebrate World Youth Day.
It was while on pilgrimage to Toronto that she met her future husband, Richard Chapman, a fellow traveller from Tasmania. The couple were married on December 18 last year.
Meanwhile, Fr Richard Ross set himself a challenge to inspire his charges and get the community behind the World Youth Day trip — a diet.
He asked people to sponsor him to lose weight between Christmas Day and Easter Sunday using no gimmicky diets, just sensible eating and more exercise.
On his final weigh-in Fr Ross had lost 11kg and reckoned he had raised about $5500, which would go into the World Youth Day pilgrimage kitty.
The pilgrimage will take the group first to Spain, including a tour of Barcelona and its gothic quarter and a visit to the 11th century sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat.
The pilgrims will then head to Lourdes in France.
After a visit to Paris the pilgrimage will go to Ars to see where St John Vianney was buried and on to Cluny and the nearby ecumenical community of Taize for a day of prayer meetings with other young people.
After venturing through Switzerland the pilgrims will enter a program of faith friendship and festivities in Freiburg, Germany to prepare them for the six-day World Youth Day festival.
The pilgrims will then have a three-day post-World Youth Day retreat at Lake Edersee in Germany.
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