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Catholic parishes brace for 4000 pilgrims

Attn Chief Reporter

New Release 4 June 2008

250 Catholic parishes brace as 4000 pilgrims head for NZ prior to World Youth Day

Details are now finalised as to how the six Catholic dioceses of New Zealand will host 4000 international pilgrims passing through New Zealand for “Days in the Diocese” prior to World Youth Day in Sydney in July.

The Days in the Dioceses form a major part of the World Youth Day festivities, giving international pilgrims the opportunity to experience local parish life, billeted with Catholic families. This will provide them with a first-hand experience of the Church within a different culture, and the chance to form lasting connections. Regular parishioners and families who are unable to get to WYD themselves can share in the WYD experience.

At the last World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005, the 100-strong New Zealand contingent was hosted in the parish of Sts. Peter & Paul’s of Siegen, a small city close to Cologne. Jonny Boon, from Wellington, recalled their arrival in Siegen: “After we had traveled all day from the scorching heat of Athens, the entire parish turned out to greet us late at night, with a guard of honor and much applause. Their great hospitality was so evident – especially in the beer and cake!”

Another Kiwi pilgrim wrote: “The beautiful people of Siegen…they opened their homes, their church, their hospitality and their hearts, and it has been a truly special German experience. The beautiful people of St. Peter & Paul…God bless them!”

This is the sort of experience we are aiming for – a chance to share a universal faith in local settings.

Auckland will host the bulk of the international pilgrims - just over 2000. Large groups are coming from the USA, Canada, France and India, with smaller numbers from Tahiti, Qatar, Sweden, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Korea, the Philippines, and several South American countries. Auckland WYD coordinators are working with local councils to find ways in which pilgrims and their host parishes can get involved in local service projects. Auckland will also host “MASSIVE”, a day of Masses, adoration and workshops throughout the central city. Parishioners, host families and local pilgrims are encouraged to join their international pilgrims on these adventures as fully as possible!

The Diocese of Hamilton will be hosting around 400 pilgrims from France, Canada and the United States. The Hamilton Diocese is encouraging its parishes to organise activities for their own pilgrims in such activities as visiting sites of significance in the localities where they are staying.

The Diocese of Palmerston North will host 48 pilgrims from Montana, USA in Taranaki and 28 pilgrims from Manitoba, Canada in the Manawatu. The Montana pilgrims and their host families and parishes will participate in a prayer walk around Mt Taranaki and a visit to a dairy farm. The Manitoba pilgrims and their hosting community will participate in ‘themed’ days, around nature, culture, justice and family life, visiting the Pohangina Valley and the Apiti Wind Farm.

The 200+ pilgrims being hosted in the Archdiocese of Wellington will arrive from four continents - Europe (Ireland, Portugal, France and Poland), Americas (Canada, US), Africa (Sierra Leone) and Asia (Philippines and Malaysia). The major highlights of their stay will include participating in a nighttime scavenger hunt around Te Papa along with any Wellington parishioners who wish to join in. Pilgrims will also spend time on a local marae to get a taste of Maori culture.

Christchurch will be home to around 400 pilgrims from five countries – South Korea, USA, Canada, France and, surprisingly, Australia! Pilgrims will gather with their hosts and New Zealand pilgrims for a diocesan Mass on the Friday night, and will have the opportunity to spend time in the Catholic Maori community at the Te Rangimarie Centre.

The southernmost diocese, Dunedin, will be hosting a group of Atlantans in Queenstown for a few nights, while a group of pilgrims from Kansas will celebrate Mass while passing through Cromwell.

ENDS

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