National WYD Committee members are pictured with the Spanish flag. Bernadette Kreutzer, Malcolm Hart, Chair - Selina Hasham, Fr Richard Healey, Phil Ryall
Across Australia, dioceses, schools, communities and movements have started celebrating "12 months out" from World Youth Day (WYD).
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference says up to 5,000 local pilgrims are expected to travel to Madrid for the celebration next August. Events counting down to the milestone have begun across Australia, including in Sydney and Hobart late last week.
A huge schools gathering in Sydney at Holy Cross College, Ryde saw some 600 students and teachers from the Archdiocese taking part in the event organised by Anthony Gordon, Archdiocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator, Sydney Catholic Education Office.
"Today was a celebration of the WYD and a lively celebration of Spanish culture. We had a Flamenco dancers and guitarist and we served a Spanish-flavoured lunch with a traditional Santiago pilgrimage cake."
"A short Spanish lesson was conducted by Rita Halloun and Ryan Acosta and Spanish chaplain, Fr Jose Maria Enedaguila SJ welcomed the gathering on behalf of the city of Madrid. It was wonderful to have Cardinal Pell lead our preparation for Madrid 2011 with a mass beautifully accompanied by Gary Pinto and his band", said Anthony.
A similar event was held in Tasmania.
Bishops Conference delegate for youth Bishop Joe Grech will be attending World Youth Day and attests to the powerful renewal of faith it can provide.
"World Youth Day is one of the greatest opportunities we have as a Catholic Church to evangelise young people. This event truly demonstrates the global Church, and shows how Jesus Christ unites us all in his love", said Bishop Joe.
Preparations, planning and fundraising is well underway by over 60 pilgrimage groups including groups from the Archdiocese of Brisbane, the Diocese of Townsville and the Archdiocese of Perth who are working to develop their full itineraries with Harvest Tours.
Madrid World Youth Day one year away: Celebrations across Australia (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)