Perth and Bunbury World Youth Day pilgrims have last weekend been invited to consider the same question Jesus asks a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Speaking at the WYD Commissioning Mass, Sunday 9 July, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB blessed and commissioned more than 200 delegates from Perth and Bunbury who are travelling to World Youth in Portugal, which commences Wednesday 2 August and concludes Sunday 6 August at a Closing Mass with Pope Francis.
The pilgrims are set to depart next Saturday 29 July, with a significant number having already taken off for pilgrimages in Israel, Spain and Rome.
World Youth Day 2023 will be the first in more than three years following the impact of COVID-19 cancelled the event originally scheduled for 2022.
Among the delegates from Perth and Bunbury are some 48 from Catholic Youth Ministry, 15 from Catholic Education Western Australia, more than 30 from the University of Notre Dame Australia, some 100 from the Neocatechumenal Way, more than 25 from the Disciples of Jesus, approximately 10 from the Somascan Youth Ministry, as well as well several more from numerous parishes and schools.
Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton will also travel to Portugal for the Mass, joining 17 fellow Bishops from across Australia.
Joining Archbishop Costelloe to concelebrate the Mass was Vicar General, the Very Rev Fr Peter Whitely VG, Episcopal Vicar Education and Faith Formation, the Very Rev Fr Vincent Glynn, Redemptoris Mater Seminary Rector, Fr Michael Moore SM, Vice Rector, Fr Luis Tijerino, Spiritual Director For Noe Navarette-Apaez, CYM Chaplain, Fr Joseph Laundy and assisted by Deacons Errol Lobo and Jason Yeap.
The Perth and Bunbury pilgrims are part of a 3000 strong contingent from Australia – the largest to ever attend an international World Youth Day.
Continuing his homily for the Mass on 9 July, Archbishop Costelloe said one of the things that often strikes him when he reads the Gospels, is the number of times that Jesus asks people questions.
“…After His resurrection, on the shore of the lake, Peter was asked a question three times by Jesus, ‘Do you love me?’,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.
“And maybe that question, too, is one that you as pilgrims might allow Jesus to ask you over the days of your journey to and from Portugal for World Youth Day,” he said.
As we ask the question, or rather respond to the questions of Jesus, Archbishop Costelloe highlighted, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ one of the challenges for us is to make sure that we go to the right places to find the answer.
“We need to be very careful not to fall into the trap of creating the Jesus that suits us” Archbishop Costelloe remined the 1000 strong congregation.
“Rather than allowing Jesus to challenge us to grow into the people that he wants us to be,” he said.
Catholic Youth Ministry Director Adam Phillips said it was encouraging to see the fantastic turnout from all the various groups and ministries at the Commissioning Mass.
“We’ve all had lots of faith formation leading up to World Youth Day,” Mr Phillips said.
“It’s been a great opportunity to walk with all the diverse range of people from across the Archdiocese and be witness to their faith experiences, it really has been very encouraging,” he said.
Mr Phillips also added that the CYM organised post-World Youth Day event scheduled for 25 August at the University of Notre Dame Australia will be an opportunity for all youth from across the Archdiocese to come and share in the excitement of World Youth Day.
“It will be a real opportunity for the youth to become involved and engaged with their faith as they continue on their life journey.
“We can’t forget we are called to share this experience in our life space – with our friends, our family and in our parishes,” he said.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse, the chair of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry, said it has been a joy to see how many young people have taken up Pope Francis’ invitation.
“It’s almost four decades since St Pope John Paul II instituted these great events and they continue to inspire the young Catholics of the world,” he said.
“With Lisbon hosting the first World Youth Day since 2019, and obviously the first since the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see the enthusiasm remains among our young adults.”
Eighteen Australian bishops are travelling to Lisbon, with many of them invited to lead catechesis sessions to help with the formation of pilgrims.
On August 1, most of the pilgrims will continue the tradition of attending a gathering of Australian pilgrims, celebrating the national component of a vast international event.
Malcolm Hart, who has attended several World Youth Days while working for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said these events have proven to be life-changing for people.
“As in previous years, dioceses and other groups have put a lot of time and resources into World Youth Day,” said Mr Hart, the director of the National Centre for Evangelisation.
“Research has shown that World Youth Day is a significant faith experiences for young adults. It makes an impact that lasts a lifetime.”
For more information about the event on 25 August, contact Catholic Youth Ministry on 08 9422 7912 or email firstname.lastname@example.org