With a mini-pilgrimage walk done, one formation day left and a Commissioning Mass at St Stephen's Cathedral in Brisbane this weekend, World Youth Day fever continues to grow around the nation, reports the Catholic Leader.
Pilgrimage co-ordinator and archdiocesan youth ministry development officer Anita Hendrie said with just over 60 days left until the event being held in Madrid from August 15 to 21, people were getting excited.
"This includes myself - I've been to Spain five times before and absolutely loved it," she said.
"I can't wait to be immersed in this beautifully rich culture again, especially to get the opportunity to stay with a Spanish family for Days in the Diocese.
"Then there's Madrid and the gathering with pilgrims from all around the world to celebrate our faith and await Pope Benedict's arrival."
Ms Hendrie said four formation days had been held for Brisbane archdiocese's more than 90 pilgrims.
"During this time we've covered topics from Spanish culture, history, food and bit of the language to the difference between being a pilgrim and a tourist and the World Youth Day patron saints," she said.
Meanwhile, in Sydney, another special group of pilgrims - with disabilities - is preparing for Madrid, reports the Catholic Weekly. “People with disabilities are discouraged from a fullness of life, but what this trip will hopefully show to people is that life itself is worth living for everyone, regardless of ability or disability,” says Bartek Milenkiewicz, one of 15 young disabled people travelling to WYD, the paper reports.
Bartek, 23, an IT student at the University of Technology Sydney, suffers from cerebral palsy diplegia.
The trip was the idea of Fr James McCarthy and is a joint venture between the parishes of Sydney Harbour North (of which Fr James is assistant priest), the Young Order of Malta, and Australian Catholic University (ACU).
The Young Order of Malta hosts an international leadership camp for young people with disabilities, which will be held in Italy at the end of July.
Eight young people with disabilities will attend the camp before joining up with other disabled participants for the Exodus pilgrimage in the Holy Land en route to WYD in Madrid.
The trip is only possible with a large number of carers, who include 10 third-year nursing students from ACU, doctors and several experienced nurses.
“We have a variety of disabilities; we have several people with cerebral palsy, a girl with spina bifida, several people with Down Syndrome, autism, and a few with intellectual disabilities,” Fr James said.
FULL STORIES Pilgrims preparing for Spanish WYD fiesta (Catholic Leader)
Sydney parish, ACU host disabled pilgrimage to WYD (Catholic Weekly)
Life measured in tapas in Madrid (SMH)