Close to 100 young Catholics gathered for an address by Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Polish Ambassador Pawel Milewksi at a launch on Saturday, ahead of the 2016 World Youth Day forum in Krakow, Poland.
While there are still a few more months to go, preparations have already been underway for the event which officially begins on July 25th, 2016.
Archbishop Prowse spoke to young people of Canberra about the need for mercy in Australian society and his concern for youth suicide, drug abuse and a pervasive sense of hopelessness.
Next year’s World Youth Day will have the theme, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7) and Archbishop Prowse says that mercy and forgiveness enabled us “to walk forward in far better ways than we have in the past.”
“The church is going through tremendous troubles here in Australia with the Royal Commission and all sorts of issues. We are not a community of the perfect. We are clearly in sinful church in need of God’s merciful forgiveness.”
He said the large turnout demonstrated the Catholic Church had a healthy future in the region.
“There are a lot young people here today,” he said.
“It is very counter-cultural this meeting this morning. Given the fact that everyone thinks people think religion has had its day and is passé. That’s not the case.”
World Youth Day (WYD) is a worldwide encounter with the Pope which is typically celebrated every three years in a different country, and is open to all young people who want to take part in a festive encounter with their contemporaries centred on Jesus Christ.
“It will be absolutely with no doubt a very spiritual religious event,” he said. “But what we would like to do with respect to the promotion of Poland is to let people discover our history, culture and hospitality.”
Youth coordinator Stuart West will help to select and lead the group of 40-50 people aged between 18-35 for the pilgrimage.
“The key things we are looking for is that each young person understands the difference between a pilgrimage and a holiday,” he said.
“This will be a journey of faith.”
During the week of World Youth Day, there will be a complete cultural agenda in addition to the events with the Pope. Once released, the main events of Krakow 2016 will be posted under the Schedules section of the WYD website.
World Youth Day organizers expect the 13th international event will attract more than 2 million people from around the world.