THERE were many smiles and a few tears as 70 young people flew from Brisbane on July 31 and August 1 for a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Rome.
The Queensland contingent joined about 1200 young people from Melbourne and Sydney and other parts of Australia on the journey of their lives, to attend the 15th World Youth Day in the presence of the Pope.
An estimated three million young people from around the world are expected to converge on Rome for more than a week of celebrations including religious observances, seminars, debates, music festivals and street theatre.
Leading the young people from Australia are Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane and Archbishop George Pell of Melbourne.
Archbishop Bathersby said it would be an unforgettable opportunity to meet Christ in 2000.
He predicted it would rate as one of the most significant experiences in the lives of the young people on the pilgrimage.
The Australians will first tour through Egypt and the Holy Land, staying at Bethlehem and climbing Mt Sinai.
They will spend 10 days visiting ancient biblical sites of significance including the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall and the Garden of Gethsemane.
On August 15, Pope John Paul II will welcome the youth of the world at St Peter’s Basilica, where they will renew their baptismal vows as they walk through the basilica’s Holy Door.
The highlight of the Rome celebrations will be a candlelight vigil at Tor Vergata University where the pilgrims will sleep under the stars and a papal Mass on August 20.
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