Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - Indigenous Australians of the Tiwi Islands, located off the coast of Australia, will be able to attend the great event of World Youth Day, in July 2008 pilgrims after being partnered by three Sydney Catholic schools.
The Tiwi islands, located about 80 km north of Darwin, for thousands of years has been inhabited by aboriginal people, who first heard of the Gospel in the early 20th century. And now, 13 young people and three elders from the remote community of Nguiu will be accommodated in Sydney, thanks to a fraternity that has been established among three of the city’s schools: Clancy Catholic College, West Hoxton, Holy Spirit Primary, Carnes Hill and St. Catherine of Siena Primary, Prestons.
Following the students’ initiative to sponsor the attendance of aboriginal youth, the schools raised $7,500 in only a three-month period. Subsequent donations were also made by local civil authorities from Tiwi, as well as some local small businesses on the islands, all of which enabled them to reach their $20,000 target and be able to share the WYD 2008 experience with other young people.
One of the pilgrims from the Tiwi Islands, Chrystal Jonson, showed her enthusiasm at the chance to meet the Holy Father and said, “I hope to use the experience to learn more about my faith and help my community grow in the faith, too.”
WYD 2008 Project Officer Stephen Mahoney says that 139 Catholic schools in Sydney have already begun pairing up with remote indigenous communities in Broome, Darwin, Alice Springs Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Fiji and the Solomon Islands as part of the Pilgrim Partnership and Support Program (PPSP). The Program allows young people to help pilgrims from poor areas pay for the expenses of the trip and participation in WYD.
The organisers hope to provide all the opportunities they can in order to allow for the most participation from Oceania possible. They also hope that the number of pilgrims will increase in the coming months, counting also on the help of other young people, of course. “It's important to ensure the biggest-ever representation of pilgrims from these remote indigenous communities. This is the first time that the Oceania region has hosted World Youth Day,” Project Officer Mahoney commented. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/2/2008; righe 29, parole 376)