WYD welcome from Bishop Anthony
An invitation to World Youth Day Rio 2013
From Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Bishop of Parramatta
For some of us it might not seem all that long ago that we took part in World Youth Day 2008, the happiest and holiest week in the history of Australia! For others of us it will seem only yesterday that we were getting ready to attend or help other people attend World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.
Well, believe it or not, there’s another one around the corner and it will be very special. From the 23rd to the 28th of July next year, millions of young people from around the world will descend upon Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to join the Pope in only the second ever World Youth Day in South America.
Given that South America has the biggest Catholic population of any region of the world it might surprise you that the last time it was held there was in 1987, in Argentina, when a million pilgrims joined Blessed John Paul II in the first World Youth Day ever held outside of Rome.
One reason I suspect it’s taken so long to go back to South America is that for much of the world that means going ‘down under’, to the Southern Hemisphere, with its seasons and calendars apparently upside down and its distances seeming so far.
But World Youth Day in Sydney showed the world that nowhere is too far in the 21st Century and that the Southern Hemisphere sports some great Catholic hosts!
So now we are gearing up for Brazil, a land of spectacular beauty, extraordinary culture, friendly people and more …
Brazil has the biggest tropical rain forest in the world. A huge coastline like Australia, with amazing beaches, mountains, rivers and waterfalls.
Like Australia, its most famous city is famous for its harbour. Rio’s harbour is almost as good as Sydney’s but has one big advantage over Sydney: a huge statue of Christ the Redeemer built on a mountain to preside over it!
That’s because Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world. Around 143 million of its 193 million people are Catholics. Many of the others are Christian also.
Rio is soon to be host to the Soccer World Cup and the Olympics, but bigger and better than either of these will be World Youth Day 2013.
World Youth Day calls together young people of every nation and language, gives them the spiritual experience of their lives, and then sends them out to change the world. So it’s a great choice of theme for this World Youth Day: Our Lord’s invitation to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt 28:19)
Those of us who go to Rio, like those who took part in Sydney or Madrid, will come home better disciples and willing to help others be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Having organised Sydney’s I know about World Youth Days, from the inside out as it were, and I know what great things it can do for you. It brings people’s faith to life, it enlarges their sense of belonging to the Church, it sets them free to love and give themselves to the adventure of the Gospel.
Hearts are awakened. Ideals are strengthened. Vocations blossom. New futures are opened out …
Deep in their hearts our young people want that. Deep in our hearts we older people want that for them. So together we must see to it that as many as possible have this World Youth Day experience.In the coming months we'll be offering details of pilgrim packages, formation sessions for leaders and pilgrims, fundraising ideas, and more. To stay up-to-date, visit our Parramatta World Youth Day website or look me up on Facebook. Pray for our next cohort of pilgrims and their leaders. Join me in Brazil for World Youth Day 2013!