By Anthony Barich
Pope Benedict XVI will personally confirm 24 young people in front of an expected 500,000 people at the World Youth Day Final Mass July 20 at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.
For the two young people from Perth who on the list of 24 to be confirmed, both concede they are struggling to come to terms with the magnitude of this, and can scarcely believe their luck.
Shannon Kyrwood, 25 and David Proudlock, 23, will partake in the 10km pilgrimage walk from North Sydney to Randwick Racecourse via the Sydney Harbour Bridge the day before the Vigil and all-night sleep out. By 8am on the Sunday morning they must be at the front sanctuary preparing for the big event.
They will join 22 other candidates – 12 others from Australia and 10 from overseas who are yet to be confirmed – to be anointed with holy oil after the Pope invokes the gifts of the Holy Spirit then later will distribute Holy Communion for them.
In the cases of both West Australians, they encountered Christ and the Church through friendship. Both also went through the RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults) – David at All Saints in Greenwood and Shannon at St Thomas More in Bateman.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Shannon, a Commonwealth Bank employee who was introduced to her local church by the family of her fiancé Adrian whom she met while working at McDonalds.
They will marry in November.
“I always felt a part of the Church because my local Bateman parish is so welcoming, but this will make it official,” Shannon told The Record last weeek.
She says the fact that she is marrying a Catholic helped her realise she made the right decision last year to become a Catholic having been brought up in the Salvation Army, when her family used to attend church services.
Her fiance’s sister Heather will be her Confirmation sponsor, and was her Godparent when Mgr Michael Keating baptised her at Easter this year.
David first started attending Foundation (now Youth Impact) events with friends at Prendiville College, and was later invited by friend Heather Black to a Disciples of Jesus social outing – a karaoke jam – where he made many more friends.
Heather later invited him to a Disciples of Jesus praise and worship Gathering, where he felt his faith come alive like never before. He also enjoyed the friendship of people not afraid of talking about their faith.
“Being Catholic is always a challenge, but I enjoy it. I believe God has brought me to this,” he said.
“If I can’t find the means to overcome a situation, I turn to God and He always comes up with the answer. Catholic faith is a day-to-day thing, not just once a week.”
Now he has a daily prayer life, volunteers with the Disciples of Jesus’ 24:7 youth group while working as an IT expert for a home building company.
Though baptised in the Anglican Church, he felt truly welcomed into the Catholic Church once he had his first Confession with Glendalough parish prist and Disciples of Jesus chaplain Fr Doug Harris, and hasn’t looked back.
Heather will be his sponsor when the Pope confirms him. World Youth Day 2008 organiser, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, said it will be an unforgettable life-changing experience for all 24 youth involved.
“It’s not every day that one is confirmed by the global leader of the Catholic Church before hundreds of thousands of people,” Bishop Fisher said.
“The sacrament is life-changing and to receive the sacrament in this way will prove an unforgettable experience, one that they will each carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“The candidates have been selected as representatives of their regions by bishops across Australia and we are absolutely delighted to be able to present them to the Pope for this momentous occasion.”
The Australian candidates are aged from 16–43 and are from every state and territory, while the 10 international confirmation candidates are in the final process of selection.
The Australians are Patrick Barrett, Belinda Frame (NSW) Bernadette Kosandiak and John Low (South Australia), Alexandra Karagiannakis and Emily Jade Marsden (Tasmania), Matthew Reuter and Judi Robinson (Victoria), Bernardo Caballero and Joanne Richards (Queensland), Riordan Wang (ACT) and Tasman Gould Heyes (NT).