World Youth Day 2008

Sidney, Australia - Pope Benedict XVI

"You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses." (Acts 1:8)

Pope's Message for WYD 2008

My Pictures of WYD 2005

What is World Youth Day? - Introduction and Messages

WYD Logo
By Fr. Gary Coulter - Contact me Sign my guestbook Go to Fr. Coulter's Homepage

Official World Youth Day Sydney 2008 Site (New: Theme Song)

E-pilgrimage Newsletter and Frequently Asked Questions.

Tuesday 15 July - Sunday 20 July 2008

Pope Invites Young People to Sydney

Says He Is Eagerly Anticipating World Youth Day

JULY 4, 2007 ( Benedict XVI is encouraging young people to prepare well for the World Youth Day to be held next July in Australia.

The Pope concluded today's general audience with a special exhortation to young people, telling them that the youth gathering will be a spiritual renewal that will benefit all of society.

"One year from now we will meet at World Youth Day in Sydney!" the Holy Father said. "I want to encourage you to prepare well for this marvelous celebration of the faith, which will be spent in the company of your bishops, priests, religious, youth leaders and one another. Enter fully into the life of your parishes and participate enthusiastically in diocesan events! In this way you will be equipped spiritually to experience new depths of understanding of all that we believe when we gather in Sydney next July.

"A sense of awe and eager anticipation also describes how we feel as we make preparations to meet in Sydney."

The Pontiff acknowledged that for many, the trip to Australia will be a long journey.

"Yet Australia and its people evoke images of a warm welcome and wondrous beauty, of an ancient aboriginal history and a multitude of vibrant cities and communities," he said. "I know that already the ecclesial and government authorities, together with numerous young Australians, are working very hard to ensure an exceptional experience for us all. I offer them my heartfelt thanks."


Benedict XVI told the youth that the celebration is "much more than an event." He affirmed that "it is a time of deep spiritual renewal, the fruits of which benefit the whole of society. Young pilgrims are filled with the desire to pray, to be nourished by Word and sacrament, to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, who illuminates the wonder of the human soul and shows the way to be 'the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ.'

"It is this love -- Christ's love -- for which the world yearns. Thus you are called by so many to 'be his witnesses.'"

The Pope told the youth to bring their friends who are searching for truth.

"Some of you have friends with little real purpose in their lives, perhaps caught up in a futile search for endless new experiences," he said. "Bring them to World Youth Day too! In fact, I have noticed that against the tide of secularism many young people are rediscovering the satisfying quest for authentic beauty, goodness and truth. Through your witness you help them in their search for the Spirit of God. Be courageous in that witness! Strive to spread Christ's guiding light, which gives purpose to all life, making lasting joy and happiness possible for everyone.

"My dear young people, until we meet in Sydney, may the Lord protect you all. Let us entrust these preparations to Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians. With her, let us pray: 'Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.'"

Oceania Plans Bigger Turnout for Youth Day '08

Many Countries Will Participate for the 1st Time

Sydney, Australia, SEPT. 8, 2006 ( World Youth Day 2008 will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect Oceania youth to the life of the Church, says the event's coordinator.

Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said this after a recent meeting of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania where the youth event was a key topic.

The meeting included bishops from Australia, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and more than a dozen Pacific Island nations. It took place Aug. 7-11 in Fiji.

Countries such as the Caroline Islands, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Marian Islands, Nauru, Norfolk Island, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvaly and Vanuatu, have never sent pilgrims to this youth celebration with the Pope, said Bishop Fisher.

He added that all the above have announced their intentions to send as large a group of young people as possible to Sydney.

Other countries -- such as American Samoa, French Polynesia including Tahiti, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna -- which have had a handful of pilgrims at recent World Youth Days, are planning a much larger representation.

Papua New Guinea, which has rarely had more than 10 pilgrims, is planning to send 1,000 to Sydney. And New Zealand, which normally sends around 100 youths to the youth event, is planning to send up to 10,000.


The Pacific bishops discussed the many aspects of this event, including how and where the youth day cross and Marian icon will travel after they arrive in Oceania in February.

The prelates also discussed how the poorer parts of Oceania might be assisted to bring significant numbers of pilgrims to Sydney.

Also addressed was how best to prepare young pilgrims for the event through evangelization, catechesis and prayer, the establishment of local Youth Day '08 committees all around the Pacific, and Pacific participation with indigenous Australians in the welcoming ceremonies and in programs of cultural exchange.

Youths in the Pacific are already being encouraged to join an "e-Pilgrimage" by logging on at, a page that to date has recorded more than 5 million visits.

"For Oceania, as for Australia and Sydney, World Youth Day 2008 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reconnect young people with our Church and to renew every aspect of Church life in our region," said Bishop Fisher.

The theme of Sydney's World Youth Day is "You Shall Receive Power when the Holy Spirit Has Come upon You; and You Shall Be My Witnesses," from Acts 1:8.

Pope Benedict XVI: On the World Youth Day Cross

"A Journey of Conversion in Jesus' Steps"

Vatican City, April 9, 2006 (
Address of Benedict XVI after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, also the diocesan-level World Youth Day, before reciting the midday Angelus.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In a few moments a delegation of German youth will hand over the World Youth Day Cross to their Australian contemporaries. It is the cross that our beloved John Paul II entrusted to young people in 1984, so that they would take it to the world as a sign of Christ's love of humanity.

I greet Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, and Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, who wished to participate in this very significant moment.

The handover of the cross, after each of the world meetings, has become a "tradition," in the proper sense of a "traditio": a highly symbolic handover, which must be lived with great faith, committing oneself to a journey of conversion in Jesus' steps.

We are taught this faith by Mary Most Holy, who was the first to believe and to bear her own cross together with the Son, experiencing with him afterwards the joy of the resurrection. This is why the WYD Cross is accompanied by the icon of the Virgin, which reproduces that of Mary "Salvation of the Roman People" ["Salus Populi Romani"], venerated in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the oldest basilica in the West dedicated to the Virgin.

After visiting several countries in Africa, to manifest the closeness of Christ and of his Mother to the peoples of that continent affected by so many sufferings, the cross and the Marian icon will be received next February in different regions of Oceania, and eventually travel to dioceses of Australia, until it reaches Sydney in July 2008. It is a spiritual pilgrimage that involves the whole Christian community, particularly young people.

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in seven languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here this Palm Sunday, when we acclaim Jesus, model of humility, our Messiah and King. In a special way, I greet Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, and the young Australians with him.

May they be assured of the support and spiritual accompaniment of all of us, as they prepare to host World Youth Day 2008. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God's blessings of strength and wisdom.

[After the handover of the cross and icon, the Pope added:]

Brothers and Sisters:

In this setting of olives, offered by the region of Puglia, we pray to the Lord with faith that this cross and icon be instruments of peace and reconciliation between people and nations, and invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary on the new pilgrimage, which begins today, so that it will be fruitful.

Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Preparing for World Youth Day '08

Interview With Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney

Rome, Italy, APRIL 7, 2006 ( - Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko has called the master plan for the 2008 Sydney World Youth Day a "masterpiece."

The archbishop, president of the Pontifical Council for Laity, approved Tuesday the final project for the World Youth Day, which has been in the works for more than two years.

The team also launched their official organization, ideas and logistics to an international group of over 90 delegates for World Youth Day in a meeting held today in Rome.

ZENIT spoke with Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, coordinator for the event.

Q: Your presentation includes a unique "three-phase approach" to the planning for the event. Could you run through these phases for us?

Bishop Fisher: The first phase is a time of evangelization, catechesis and prayer with the youth leading up to the event itself from now until July 2008.

This is a program for anyone in the world who wants to join in as a way to prepare themselves for Sydney. They can join us through an "E-pilgrimage" and receive a pack of spiritual preparation monthly that will include scriptures, prayer, the life of a saint, testimonies from young people, as well as practical information about World Youth Day in Sydney.

Phase 2 will be, of course, the great week of the World Youth Day in Sydney and the days in the dioceses around Australia before that.

For some youth, their touchdown in Australia won't be directly in Sydney. We'll give them the opportunity to spend some days in the diocese in other parts of the country such as Adelaide or Melbourne and then make a special journey to Sydney from there.

Phase 3 will be from 2008-2028. The third phase is the follow-up phase when the young people return home. We want to be ready to welcome them home to a Church that has its arms wide open and says that we want you to be able to learn more about your faith, to be able to pray, participate, to be able to serve and lead; to be the next generation of our Church in Australia and throughout the world!

Q: How will your program reflect the theme for the World Youth Day: "You will receive power from the Holy Spirit, and you will be my witnesses when the Holy Spirit has come upon you?"

Bishop Fisher: When it comes to witnessing the Holy Spirit, I think it's about an exchange of gifts - what Australia can offer the youth of the world and what can come of this reciprocity.

Australia represents for some "the ends of the earth," so it's a place that offers young people of the world an opportunity to come and be witnesses to their faith beyond their own surroundings. They come bearing gifts to share - their enthusiasm and faith that will help evangelize our whole culture.

We, in turn, will offer those young people a place of hospitality, a place of pilgrimage, a place where they will meet the Holy Father and the young people of the world to celebrate and deepen their faith so they may return to wherever they came from with a renewed zeal.

They will find a place of great welcome - we're a very multicultural society so wherever they're from, they will find people who speak, think and act like them. But they'll also find every other nation represented there, wonderfully united as one country.

Many pilgrims will be coming from countries that are hundreds or thousands of years old and Australia offers them a new land - our European settlers arrived just over 200 years ago - with a very ancient aboriginal culture, both of which they will have a chance to encounter.

We are very determined that we are going to offer people a very genuine pilgrimage experience.

Though it's true that we don't have ancient cathedrals with the relics of saints, what we do have is a young culture, a young Church that wants to be a place of living saints. We believe the pilgrims will help make Australia into a true pilgrimage center where they will meet Jesus Christ and where they'll experience his Holy Spirit.

Q: What sense are you getting from people around the world - what sort of logistical programs are being put together, etc.?

Bishop Fisher: We're certainly trying to get the word out to the young people of the world. We're going to do that especially through the Internet, through briefing national bishops conferences and international youth meetings.

And, the fact is, our world is a very small place. You can get anywhere in the world in a day and that includes to Australia... from anywhere in the world. So, it need not seem so "far" to people or so impossible to achieve. I do it regularly!

Q. And what about the cost?

Bishop Fisher: It's also not as impossibly expensive as they might imagine either. We are saying to young Europeans, or to North and South Americans for instance, that for the packages for WYD, the airfare, spending money, etc., why not set aside about 2 euros a day and you'll be able to easily afford all of those requirements.

The package received once in Australia - that is your food, accommodation, transport, health insurance, etc. - is the equivalent of one or two tickets to see your favorite performer in concert.

This is not big money we're talking about, given what young people save for other things.

We are certainly doing everything in our power to make it as accessible to as many young people in the world as want to come. And for those in poor countries, let me assure you that we'll be doing everything we can to make it possible for you to come too.

We don't just want rich, young Catholics to be there, we want everyone there.

Q: Immigration issues are always factored into the entire preparation, the bid, etc. How is Australia responding?

Bishop Fisher: We have been very blessed in our preparations in Australia for WYD with very good cooperation from our state and federal governments.

Part of that cooperation is the promise that we'll be able to offer free visas to the young people of the world; no caps or limits on any particular country, as there have been in some previous WYDs.

So if any young person from any part of the world gets together what is required to get there and register for the event, once they apply for a visa, they will be welcomed.

Q: In Cologne you had quite a team set up to outline some of the things people should and shouldn't do. What has Australia learned from this and past world youth days?

Bishop Fisher: We had a team of observers in Cologne and the Germans were wonderfully generous to our needs and gave us access to their organization so we could learn everything we could about hosting a WYD. We've also had literally thousands of people attending previous WYDs so we can learn something from everyone.

Basically, our goal is that we want to imitate and improve whatever has been done anywhere else that went well, while adding a bit of an Australian flavor to it.

We've planned to have our young people living in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney and they would have their catechesis in the morning near where they are living, ideally within walking distance.

Then, during the day, they will come into the city center for some of the youth festival events such as the arrival of the Pope, the Mass, and Stations of the Cross, where all the best of our public transport system is on standby to make that happen.

Then, in terms of the vigil and final Mass, our plan is to hold that at our Olympic site which is very central in Sydney and has fabulous public transport going straight into it.

But, many of the youth will choose the option of walking to the site, as at previous youth days. For this, we've arranged the most beautiful and moving pilgrimage walk that WYD has had in all its history. We're planning that they will walk over the five bridges of Sydney: the ANZAC Bridge, the Harbor Bridge, the Iron Cove Bridge, the Gladesville Bridge and the Ryde Bridge to Homebush Olympic Park.

Because the Olympic Park is so central - its not a big field way out of town as most WYDs have had to be, such as Tor Vergata was here in Rome, or Marienfeld at Cologne - ours will prove much easier for people to get to and from.

I don't want to underestimate the challenge. We're still taking into consideration that there will be enormous crowds - the biggest crowds in the history of our country will be gathered for the final Mass of the World Youth Day.

That's very exciting and of course, it will require some patience and young people will have some of the real pilgrim experience - but, in general, I think we're a city which has demonstrated, from having held events like the Olympics and the World Cup, that we can cope with these sorts of crowds.

Q: What's your hope for this event?

Bishop Fisher: We're hoping that the Australian Church and Australia will never be the same again.

My hope would be for a genuine, deep renewal of the whole life of the Church in my country.

But, then I hope that through the experience of World Youth Day in Australia, this won't just be a really exciting week for a lot of young people who simply go back to work afterwards, but that this will be a change in the lives of all young people in attendance. I hope that it will be a time for a deeply moving encounter with Christ and his Church, and a time to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, and that they will return as witnesses to Jesus Christ - really wanting to show the world what they believe - and show the world a way to be good and true and beautiful.

Countdown to Sydney '08

Organizers Want Effects of Youth Day to Last

July 27, 2006 ( - By Catherine Smibert

This month marks the two-year countdown to World Youth Day 2008. The coordinators of the event, to be held in Sydney, Australia, are emphasizing the significance of this next phase with key initiatives.

Members of the "dream team" of organizers just completed a harrowing week of briefings in Rome with a variety of Vatican dicasteries and community directors.

I had the chance to sit in on one of these such sessions with the chief executive officer of the World Youth Day '08 office, Danny Casey.

His enthusiasm was infectious as he revealed some of the work done to date.

"We're giving every step of this enormous and wonderful project its just treatment," Casey said. "We take all the phases of it very seriously because we comprehend that the benefits of a WYD don't just have to be limited to a day, a week or month, but rather a lifetime."

Programs designed to help Australians make the most of the Youth Day include a series of information and education campaigns, notably the Active8 scheme.

Active8 works with schools, universities, youth groups and parishes providing them with a pastoral program of events, activities and materials. The cornerstone of this project rests on school curriculum materials that supplement existing religious education programs in Australia and elsewhere.

The materials include syllabus modules, a DVD and booklets that are appropriate for priests, parents and teachers. They will be made available via the Youth Day '08 Web site,

The official coordinator of the Youth Day, Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, noted that the materials aim to answer vital questions in the lead-up to the '08 event.

"[They] explain what World Youth Day is, why it was so desired by their nation, what the plans are so far, general expectations, and how they can be involved," said the 46-year-old prelate. "The gift of World Youth Day is a new opportunity to give our young people these gifts of Jesus Christ in the Church and to build with and for and through them a new future."

The archbishop of the host diocese, Cardinal George Pell, underlined the importance of using the Web site, telling me that so far it has been "a spectacular success."

"In the first two weeks there were 1,400,000 hits and we're still averaging 70,000 hits a day," the cardinal said.

"An interesting little quirk of information," he added, "is that though there are good number of hits from Australia, there are more from Germany. This says something about the endurance of World Youth Days."

World Youth Day '08 Logo Unveiled

Inspired by 5 Key Themes

Vatican City, April 9, 2006 (

The logo image encapsulates five separate stories, representing Christ our Savior; the Catholic faith; the pilgrimage that is World Youth Day; the youth participants; and the host city, Sydney.

The most prominent image is the flame of the Holy Spirit. The colors of red, yellow and orange also evoke the sense of the Australian outback.

The honeycombed effect across the side of the flame represents receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.

The cross at the center of the logo is raised in victory representing Christ and the life of witness which the Holy Spirit enables. The white cross indicates Jesus as the light of the world.

The blue chosen for the World Youth Day text reflects the oceans that surround Australia, and the pilgrimage across the oceans to attend World Youth Day. It also represents the waters of baptism, as well as the Blessed Mother. Another image symbolizes the Sydney Opera House.

Pontiff Extols a Step Toward Sydney '08

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2007 ( The diocesan-level World Youth Day, to be held on Palm Sunday, will be a decisive step in preparation for the international event in Australia next year, says Benedict XVI.

"I invite you to experience the next World Youth Day together with your bishops in your respective dioceses," the Pope states in his message to young people for the diocesan-level World Youth Day 2007. That event will be observed April 1.

"This will be an important stage on the way to the meeting in Sydney where the theme will be: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses,'" the Holy Father writes.

The Pontiff adds: "May Mary, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, help you to let that cry ring out everywhere, the cry that has changed the world: 'God is love!'"

Hosts of World Youth Day '08 Curbing Costs

SYDNEY, Australia, JAN. 11, 2007 ( To foster solidarity with developing countries, organizers of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney are keeping costs low.

The World Youth Day coordinator, Dominican Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher, said the packages were designed to encourage maximum participation by pilgrims from Australia's neighbors in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

"We know that for many people in Oceania, this may be the only chance they have to attend a World Youth Day," Bishop Fisher said. "With this in mind, one of our guiding principles was to ensure that pilgrims from developing nations in Oceania pay as little as possible to attend."

Details of accommodations, meals and transport for the world's largest youth celebration reflect lower costs than the previous World Youth Day.

The 10th international World Youth Day will be held from July 15-20. It is expected to attract 500,000 pilgrims, including 125,000 international visitors

Sydney '08 Sites Chosen for Papal Events

Racecourse Can Accommodate 600,000

SYDNEY, Australia, OCT. 19, 2006 (

Randwick Racecourse in Sydney has been chosen as the site for the key papal events of World Youth Day 2008.

"We needed a site that could accommodate up to 600,000 people and get them to and from that site as smoothly as possible," said Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney and chairman of the local organizing committee.

He confirmed the news along with Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery that oversees preparations for the event.

The key moments of World Youth Day 2008 will be the overnight vigil with Benedict XVI, and the concluding Mass that he will celebrate.

Randwick Racecourse and nearby Centennial Park are the first of several Sydney sites confirmed to host large crowds during the week of World Youth Day from July 15-20, 2008.

According to Cardinal Pell, up to 300,000 young pilgrims are expected to walk that Saturday, July 19, to the designated site for the vigil with the Pope, and sleep out under the stars. An additional 300,000 are expected the following morning for the Mass.

Eighteen sites were originally considered, and a shortlist of four was presented to Archbishop Rylko and his two colleagues from the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

After much consideration, "Randwick was deemed to provide the best combination of space, uninterrupted sight lines and transport links," Cardinal Pell said.

Rail stations

"We wanted as many people as possible to see the Pope directly," he explained. "Randwick offers this opportunity to 400,000 people while another 200,000 or more can be part of the final Mass in Centennial Park via video link.

"Getting people to and from the site in large numbers was also crucial; the proximity of city railway stations -- from where the traditional pilgrimage on foot will be made -- means that people can move to Randwick Racecourse at the rate of 70,000 per hour."

"While there may be larger sites in Sydney, none could transport people at anything like that rate," the cardinal noted. Moreover, Randwick has "the highest minimum temperatures of any site considered, an important factor for the vigil and sleep-out."

For his part, Archbishop Rylko said he was pleased Randwick would extend its heritage as the site of papal Masses in Sydney, as this will be "the fourth papal Mass celebrated there."

"His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is looking forward to his first visit to Australia and to celebrating Mass at the place where Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI stood before him," he said.

The Polish prelate was able to see firsthand the progress made in preparations for the event and said he was "especially pleased with the support and cooperation that World Youth Day 2008 is receiving from the state and federal governments."

World Youth Day will begin in Sydney on July 15, 2008, with an opening Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Rylko, at a site yet to be determined. The following Thursday, Sydney will welcome Benedict XVI.