Kairos: Volume 20, Issue 05
Eight months on from World Youth Day 2008, one official task still remains for the Church in Australia. This will take place on Palm Sunday in Rome when the WYD Cross and Icon will be officially handed over to the young people of Spain, the next WYD host city.
A delegation of 60 people, including youth representatives from 17 Australian dioceses and several communities and movements, has travelled to Rome for the official handover, which will take place in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter’s Square immediately after Palm Sunday Mass. The Mass will also be a part of the celebration of the 24th World Youth Day, commemorated around the world in local dioceses.
There will be other activities in Rome around this event, including a visit to St Peter’s Basilica, a dinner hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and a special Mass at Australia House, the new pilgrim centre for Australians visiting Rome.
The delegation will be led in Rome by Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, and will also include Bishop Tim Costelloe, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, and Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.
Joining the delegation in Rome for some of the official functions will be Tim Fischer, Australian Ambassador to the Vatican, and Amanda Vanstone, Australian Ambassador to Italy.
Memories are evoked of the Australian delegation’s journey to Rome on Palm Sunday three years ago to receive the WYD Cross and Icon from the young people of Germany, hosts of WYD05 in Cologne in 2005. In the presence of the Holy Father, the young people of Australia received the Cross and Icon from an emotional group of young Germans, marking the beginning of Australia’s encounter with two powerful symbols that would pave the way for WYD08 in Sydney.
Fr Chris Ryan, pastoral planner for the Journey of the WYD Cross and Icon, was present for the 2006 handover and felt privileged to return there on this occasion. “This marks a very fitting end to a long and meaningful journey for the Church in Australia. The Cross and Icon have touched countless lives in capital cities and rural communities right across the nation,” he said.
The youth delegates include Teresa Wilson, director of Melbourne’s Archdiocesan Office for Youth, opera singer Amelia Farrugia, who was a WYD08 ambassador, Alfio Stuto, the actor who played Jesus in the WYD08 Stations of the Cross, and several of the young volunteers who devoted six months to the Journey of the Cross and Icon around Australia in 2007-08. Mark Heiss, a young Aboriginal man from Sydney, will carry the message stick – an important element of the Journey of the Cross and Icon that invited young Indigenous people to participate in WYD08. The message stick will be a gift for the Holy Father from the Indigenous peoples of Australia.
After travelling to every diocese in Australia (including a special visit to New Zealand) in the lead up to WYD08, the Cross and Icon will continue their physical and symbolic journey around the world in the custody of the young people of Spain as they prepare for WYD11 in Madrid in 2011.
The Palm Sunday Mass and handover for the very first time will be streamed live on Xt3, allowing young people in Australia to share in the experience as it happens in Rome.
The Palm Sunday Mass, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, will start at 6pm EST, followed by the Angelus at 8pm EST. Then the Cross and Icon will be handed over on the steps of St Peter’s in a ceremony with the Holy Father and representatives from Australia and Madrid. To watch the live coverage, visit www.xt3.com