WHEN 15-year-old Lara McKee heard about the Australian Pilgrim Support Program (APSP) to help young Catholics attend World Youth Day in Spain in August, she “jumped at it with two open arms”.
Lara began her application with the Spanish greeting of “Hola!” and wrote of her “dream to travel and see the world”.
“When Pope Benedict in 2009 announced that the next World Youth Day would be held in Madrid, Spain, I was completely stoked,” she wrote.
“Learning Spanish for a year when I was younger was even more of a motivation to go (and) being able to attend this memorable event will be an amazing story to tell my family and friends in many years to come.”
Lara was granted $1000 towards her travel, part of $32,000 made available through the program.
Senior youth ministry projects officer for the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life (BCPL) Malcolm Hart said priority was given “for those young people from dioceses and communities with fewer resources”.
“The APSP exists in order to generate and distribute funds nationally to young people who would not normally be able to afford to attend an international World Youth Day celebration,” he said.
National World Youth Day projects officer Bernadette Kreutzer said it was “a difficult task” to select the successful applications.
“Fifty people applied from around the country,” she said, “(And) we exhausted the full amount of funding.” Excited Lara said this “experience of a life time” would benefit her in many ways.
“As a Catholic, it will deepen my faith for Jesus, it will open my eyes to the world which I live in, strengthen my bonds with my peers and family (and) also make new friendship to last a lifetime,” she said.
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