AMONG the young pilgrims heading to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany is a group from outback Australia, most of whom will be going overseas for the first time.
The combined group from indigenous and isolated communities in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in Western Australia will head to France in early August for a Marian pilgrimage before going on to Cologne for World Youth Day celebrations from August 16-21 with Pope Benedict XVI.
Leading the group will be Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome and Darwin’s youth chaplain, Ministries of God’s Love Father Dan Benedetti, with support from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).
Fr Benedetti said, for most of the mainly indigenous group who come from rural and regional cities, towns, desert and coastal areas and surrounding Islands, travelling to another country and gathering with such a huge amount of people will be a first.
He said the young people faced a number of challenges to get to World Youth Day.
‘One big demand has been the practicalities for pilgrims in remote communities to apply for passports,’ he said.
He said the Northern Territory and West Australian communities had been generous, both spiritually and financially, in helping the pilgrims.
‘Much is being done to raise the finances needed and many people have been very generous in their giving,’ Fr Benedetti said.
‘We are all looking forward to meeting with so many young people from different cultures, being with the new Holy Father and deepening our friendship with Jesus.’
The group will leave on August 8 for the Marian pilgrimage that will take them from the healing waters of Lourdes, France to the boulevards and churches of Paris.
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