A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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17 July 2023

Almost 600 young Melbournians gathered on Sunday for a commissioning ceremony and Mass led by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli in St Patrick’s Cathedral ahead of their departure for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.

In what will be the largest contingent from the Archdiocese of Melbourne to attend an overseas World Youth Day event, the pilgrims will join more than one million young people from around the world to share their faith in Jesus Christ through prayer and celebration from 2 to 6 August.

‘There is much excitement and anticipation for the weeks ahead’, said Archbishop Peter. ‘World Youth Day is an incredible opportunity for our young people and emerging leaders to experience being part of the universal Church. We pray that this will be a time of powerful spiritual encounter with the Lord for each in their own personal journey of faith.’

Melbourne pilgrims will represent 134 parishes, schools and movements from across the Archdiocese, including almost 100 students and 60 teachers from 57 Catholic secondary schools, at this 16th World Youth Day gathering. Pilgrims will participate in a range of faith and leadership development programs en route to Lisbon, including two groups to Italy and one to the Holy Land, with the first group scheduled to depart on Wednesday 19 July.

Archbishop Peter and Executive Director of Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Dr Edward Simons will travel with a group of emerging leaders from Catholic schools, health care and social service agencies, with an itinerary tailored to forming leaders for mission. ‘It is important that our leaders, across all aspects of the Church’s mission and outreach, understand and hear the concerns and dreams of young faithful in today’s world’, said the Archbishop. ‘World Youth Day, and the shared pilgrimage, will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all involved – and one that will bear great fruit in the years ahead.’