The local Catholic community will farewell 71 pilgrims, including Bishop Bill Wright, as they depart for World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland, this Thursday 14 July.
Pilgrims will take part in a 27-day journey following in the footsteps of the saints through Italy and Poland before joining an estimated three million people from around the world to celebrate their Catholic faith with Pope Francis in Krakow from 25-31 July.
Bishop Bill Wright is one of 19 bishops from Australia who will be taking part in WYD and the diocese's 71 attendees will be part of the Australian contingent of over 2500 pilgrims.
The diocese's pilgrimage is unique in that it is intergenerational, with the youngest pilgrim being just 14 years of age and the oldest 74. Bishop Bill believes this will bring extra resonance to the experience.
"I think there will be a special richness to having a group of all ages mixed together, sharing and reflecting on the experiences together, talking together, praying together."
"I hope the young will get to glimpse the passion older believers can have for the things that Jesus did and taught. I'm confident that, as always, the oldies will be heartened by the honesty and sheer good intentions of the young," said Bishop Bill.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the theme of WYD is "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall receive mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Diocesan pilgrimage co-ordinators, Brian and Sue Lacey, are hopeful that the theme of mercy will light up the hearts of pilgrims throughout the journey.
"Pope Francis said, in a message to young people about WYD, that 'everything in Jesus speaks of mercy; that he himself is mercy' and we certainly hope that this pilgrimage of faith is a transformative and merciful experience for our pilgrims," said Sue Lacey.
Krakow will host the 31st WYD which was started by Pope John Paul II as a way to inspire youth and embody them in living the teachings of Christ. Brian Lacey has no doubt that all pilgrims will return encouraged in their faith.
"We are being sent forth to be part of the global Church and to bring the many blessings we encounter back home to share with the rest of our diocesan community," said Brian Lacey.
There are 21 teachers and 16 students from diocesan Catholic Schools who will be part of the pilgrimage. Pilgrims will visit historic sites in Venice, Padua, Milan, Siena, Assisi, Cascia and Rome before heading to Poland to follow in the footsteps of St John Paul and St Faustina and experience the staggering crowds of WYD.
What: World Youth Day pilgrim's farewell
When: Thursday 14 July: 11.00 – 11.30am
Where: Diocesan offices, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West.
Who: 71 Catholic diocese WYD pilgrims, including Bishop Bill Wright, Director of Schools, Ray Collins, teachers and students.