Former Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy has signed up as an “ambassador” for World Youth Day and opened the doors of his family’s home to pilgrims.
Sheedy, whose contract was not renewed at the end of last season, ending a stunning 27-year stint as Bombers coach that including hree VFL/AFL premierships, joined Church representatives at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome stadium last week to reveal his support Melbourne Stay – part of for the archdiocese of Melbourne’s Days in the Diocese program – which will take place in the week before Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Australia.
A culminating moment in the week’s events will be the gathering of a congregation of 50,000 pilgrims and parishioners to attend Mass at Melbourne’s second largest sports stadium, Telstra Dome, on July 11.
This will be a commissioning Mass for pilgrims on route to Sydney. An expected influx of tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to spend time in the archdiocese of Melbourne on their way to World Youth Day.
Sheedy said he and his family will be among hundreds of Melbourne families who will open their homes to pilgrims on their way to and from the Telstra Dome Mass, and to World Youth Day.
The Sheedys were the first Melbourne family to officially sign up for the Church’s co-ordinated hospitality effort, which is called Melbourne Stay.
“We have got to do all that we can to host these 25,000 international pilgrims during Days in the Diocese,” Mr Sheedy said.
“I am proud to be a part of it and will be looking forward to having one or two staying in my home this July.”
The Days in the Dioceses program will be a weeklong series of talks and religious events staged around Victoria.
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart welcomed the Sheedy family to the program and applauded the football legend’s involvement.
“Mr Sheedy is an outstanding public servant, contributor and ambassador to Melbourne and Victoria,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Hart will be principal celebrant at the Mass at Telstra Dome, which is more normally the scene for AFL football and international soccer and cricket matches than for religious events.
An estimated 200 members of the clergy will assist the archbishop in the celebration of the Eucharist at the stadium Mass.
Secular authorities in Victoria are backing the Days in the Diocese program as a significant event for the whole community, not just Catholics.
The Victorian Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs, James Merlino, said the Days in the Diocese program is the state’s next major event, and “will be yet another milestone on Victoria’s major events calendar.”