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Wellington lass to be the voice of World Youth Day

Wellington lass to be the voice of World Youth Day

The role of an MC is always a privilege. For one New Zealand pilgrim going to World Youth Day in Sydney this month, the privilege was also a complete surprise – and, she adds, an honour.

Josie Leota, 23, from Wellington, will be one of the MCs to an audience of up to half a million young people, clergy and religious during the final Evening Vigil for World Youth Day at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Saturday 19 July. Included in the audience will be Pope Benedict, hundred of bishops and 4000 New Zealand pilgrims. It will be one of the largest audiences in Australasian history, so being selected as MC is no mean feat for the lass from Wainuiomata.

“In our selection of the MCs of the Evening Vigil, we were looking for someone who was deeply devoted to Christ and His Church, representative of young pilgrims throughout Australia and Oceania, and comfortable speaking to the world about the faith,” explained Sr Anna Wray OP, the International Liturgy Group Coordinator for World Youth Day 2008.

Josie was originally asked to give a testimony in Samoan at one of the major World Youth Day events and had no idea that this would lead to an invitation to share the role of MC.

“When they said they didn’t want to use my testimony in Samoan, I thought ‘Oh well, that’s fine.’ I certainly wasn’t expecting them to then ask me to MC! What an unbelievable privilege!” said Leota. “I will do my very best to represent the young people of Oceania, to share their faith, joy and vitality through my role.”

Indeed, through her testimony, the selection committee felt “her joy over her background – Catholic, Samoan, and Kiwi – was contagious,” said Sr Anna Wray OP. “The depth of Josie’s conviction and dedication to the Christ was evident to us from the beginning of our correspondence with her.”

Leota has been representing the Archdiocese of Wellington as a Kiwi Ambassador for the past year in the lead up to World Youth Day. The role has included spending time with pilgrims around the diocese, encouraging them in their preparation and keeping everyone informed about Wellington’s activities via a blog shared by the six Kiwi Ambassadors around New Zealand. In addition, Leota was invited to represent the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference, alongside seminarian Cameron Surrey, on the International Liturgy Group at World Youth Day.


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