AN Australian team received an insight to preparations for World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany during January.
Michael Hart, a ministry development officer with Youth and Children’s Ministry in Brisbane archdiocese, and Selina Hasham from Harvest Pilgrimages in Sydney travelled to Germany for a World Youth Day preparatory meeting with organisers.
About 250 delegates from countries including the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom and even Jamaica attended the four-day gathering.
Hundreds of thousands of young people, aged from 16-30, will descend on Cologne from August 16-21 for World Youth Day.
The two Australian delegates attended on behalf of the Australian Bishops’ Committee for Laity.
They were joined by five observers from Sydney, including Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher, who were keen to see how Cologne is preparing for the event.
Sydney has been touted as a possible venue for the next World Youth Day gathering in 2008.
Michael said he was ‘quietly hopeful’ about Sydney’s chances of winning the right to host the event in 2008.
The Pope will announce the next host city at the event’s closing ceremony in Cologne.
Michael said discussions between delegates and organisers in Germany focused on logistical and practical issues surrounding such a big event.
‘We spent four days talking to the organising committee, going through the preparations, witnessing what actually goes on behind the scenes in getting an event of this size off the ground,’ he said.
‘We shared our ideas with organisers and questions were raised about issues such as visas for young people from African countries and transportation to and from venues.
‘Unlike Canada (in 2002), which only had one main centre, events will take place across three centres in Germany – Cologne, Bonn and Dusseldorf.
‘So transport will be an important issue for many groups.’
Michael said they were taken to see some of the sites where much of the week-long celebrations will take place, including Cologne Cathedral, which holds the relics of the Three Magi and will be the epicentre for the week, and Marienfeld, a Marian pilgrimage destination, where a papal Mass will close the event.
He said about 200 staff were working in parishes across the region, getting everybody involved, including non-Catholics.
‘Other Churches have already offered buildings to the organisers and there is a great ecumenical view to the event,’ he said.
‘But the focus will be on the sacraments and adoration of the Eucharist.’
He said Queensland’s pilgrims would be based in Bonn with accommodation already booked.
Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane and the other Queensland bishops would stay within walking distance of the pilgrims.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.