GROUPS of students and teachers from 20 Catholic high schools and young adults from parishes along Australia’s eastern seaboard from Port Macquarie in New South Wales to Ingham in north Queensland are visiting nations of the Pacific Rim as part of preparations for World Youth Day 2008.
Each group, consisting of 10 to 15 participants, will be implementing the first phase of Catholic Mission’s World Youth Day Exchange Program during the school holidays at the end of terms 3 and 4.
The aim will be for the visitors to be deeply immersed in traditional Melanesian and Polynesian cultures.
Through these experiences they will form relationships with the youth of Pacific island communities, and will repay their hospitality by hosting those youth in their own parishes and schools for the Days in the Diocese that precede World Youth Day in 2008.
WYD08 well be held in Sydney from July 15-20 next year.
Youth travelling to World Youth Day from remote and isolated village communities across the Pacific may find the experience quite confronting.
Hopefully, connecting with the friendly faces of people they have already met will soften the experience and add a further dimension to World Youth Day for both communities.
Catholic Mission also encourages the Australian communities to engage in the Pilgrim Partnership Support Program by fundraising to assist youth in our Pacific neighbourhood meet the travel costs associated with the journey to World Youth Day.
The locations in the Pacific rim include communities within the dioceses of Aitape, Kiunga, Alotau and Kundiawa in Papua New Guinea; Gizo and Honiara in the Solomon Islands; the tiny nation of Wallis and Futuna Islands in the Pacific as well as Tonga.
The program offers opportunities for communities in Australia and across the Pacific to form grassroots links, with the potential for these links to grow into bonds of solidarity that continue beyond World Youth Day.
During the immersion component of the program, participants will witness the work of the Church in health clinics, hospitals and schools as well as the range of pastoral, education, health and social programs the Church implements.
They will be welcomed into remote and isolated village communities where people live in thatched huts that lack the luxuries of electricity and water on tap.
They will be exposed to the material poverty that is the norm for most people on Earth but will also develop an appreciation of the spiritual wealth and deep sense of community that permeates traditional societies across the Pacific.
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.
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