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4000 pilgrims to come

Media Release – May 5, 2008


4000 to come …. 4000 to go

Kiwi Catholics brace to greet 4000 international pilgrims…
then, 4000 young Kiwis will join them for World Youth Day in Sydney.

With less than three months till World Youth Day in Sydney, the Catholic Church in New Zealand is gearing up to host 4000 international young pilgrims, as well as despatching 4000 home-grown pilgrims later on to the event in Sydney.

To ensure everything runs smoothly, Kiwi parishes have been putting in months of planning to allow a preliminary event, “Days in the Diocese”, to be a faith-filled and joyous cultural exchange here as pilgrims en route to Sydney are billeted locally. Activities will include visits to significant religious sites and local attractions around New Zealand, celebrations of faith and Kiwi hospitality. At the same time, the 4000 New Zealand pilgrims are preparing spiritually as well as practically, for the pilgrimage to Sydney.

World Youth Day is a global event, called by the Pope, for young people. The largest youth event in the world, it is held every two or three years. Although billed as a "day" it is in fact a week-long celebration.
After “Days in the Diocese”, our visitors, plus 4000 New Zealand pilgrims, will travel to Sydney for the main celebrations of the 23rd World Youth Day from 15 - 20 July. They will form the largest contingent of people ever to leave New Zealand for a non-sporting event, and join the expected total of 250,000 participating pilgrims.

The Australian government has pulled out all stops in support of World Youth Day. It is granting a free three-month visa to those registering. Over 500,000 people are expected to attend the final Mass with Pope Benedict at Randwick Racecourse.

Previous World Youth Days have attracted gigantic crowds. In 1995 in Manila there were four million, and two million gathered in Rome in 2000. At the last World Youth Day (in 2005 in Cologne, Germany) one and a half million people gathered and heard Pope Benedict announce Sydney as the 2008 host city.

Young Kiwi pilgrims listen to a recent WYD fund-raising concert in Auckland.

ENDS

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