Pilgrims head for World Youth Day from London and Liverpool - 9 July 2008

 A group of 170 young adults from the Diocese of Westminster have left for Sydney to take part in the World Youth Day celebrations, which start in Sydney on 15 July.

A special Blog will cover the Diocese of Westminster's pilgrimage to World Youth Day and will allow families, friends and parishes and the wider community to share some of the highlights of the pilgrimage online. The Blog will feature video, including a specially filmed message to pilgrims from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, photographs and an online diary. The Blog is at www.rcdow.org.uk/youth/wyd

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, who will be at World Youth Day, said: "I am delighted that the Diocese of Westminster will be taking part in the twenty-third World Youth Day, the theme of which is, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses" (Acts1:8)."

"For those of you who are participating for the first time, you may be excited and possibly, a little nervous. But do know that as a diocesan family you will find great support and friendship along the way. It will be a great gift for us to be together and in communion with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI."

"The Holy Spirit will help us in Australia to rediscover our faith if it is lost, strengthen it if it has become weak, and help us to savour it as fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."

The Diocese of Westminster pilgrims will spend the first week of their pilgrimage with families in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, preparing themselves for World Youth Day. This will include helping the community, prayer and celebrating Mass.

17 nationalities from the Diocese of Westminster are represented including Great Britain, Ireland, Philippines, Germany, Montserrat, Croatia, Hungary, India, Lithuania, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland, USA and Zimbabwe. Auxiliary Bishops Alan Hopes and Bernard Longley will be also be taking part in the Westminster pilgrimage, as well as six priests and four seminarians.

Forty young people from the Archdiocese of Liverpool have also begun the journey to Australia. Prior to traveling to Sydney from 10-14 July Liverpool's pilgrims will be taking part in voluntary community projects in the area of Maitland and Newcastle, a little over 100 miles north of Sydney. Staying in the local community they will be working on parish projects, attending a social justice event and a diocesan gathering with 5,000 other young pilgrims. They will also have the opportunity to socialise at a parish barbecue.

Traveling with Animate Youth Ministries each young person has had to raise approximately £2,000 for the trip and fundraising has taken many forms including a sponsored bike ride to Lourdes (the Marian Shrine in the South of France); barn dances; raffles; selling World Youth Day pens on market stalls; table and baking fairs; race nights; and Australian themed costume parties. Generous donations from individuals, parishes and Catholic organisations have also gone towards the trip.

People from throughout the Archdiocese assembled to bid farewell to the travellers on Sunday evening, 6 July, when the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, celebrated a Departure Mass at St Mary's, Lowe House, St Helens.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly said: 'Communion means both our communion with the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Mass; it also means our communion with one another in his Body the Church. Communion in both inseparable senses will surely be strengthened for all those who go as pilgrims to Australia to participate in the gathering of young people with the Holy Father at the Lord's Table.'

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