Suva (Agenzia Fides) - World Youth Day Cross accompanied by the Icon of Our Lady Mother of Wisdom continue to tour Oceania. After bringing encouragement and joy to Catholics in Solomon Islands, a country which was hard hit a few months ago by a powerful tsunami, the WYD symbols arrived in Tonga on 23 May to a warm welcome by Catholics of all ages.
The official welcome service, a Liturgy of the Word in the cathedral of Immaculate Mary of Ma’ufanga, was attended by hundreds of young people, a delegation of Tonga's royal family and of the Tonga’s Youth Council. Christians all over the Islands, 15,000, celebrated with prayers and liturgical song and dance. The local Bishop Soane Lilo Foliaki, spoke of preparations Tonga for the 2008 WYD in Sydney Australia: “The renewing power of the Holy Spirit is touching this country, especially the hearts of young members of the Church preparing for World Youth Day ”, according to www.korazym.org. Preparations for the arrival of the Cross and Icon involved the faithful in all 13 parishes of the diocese. For the local Catholic community “it was an exciting moment and a call to renewal in Christ, not only for young people but for the whole diocese”. The Bishop of Tonga said the meeting with the Pope in Sydney will be “a historic and providential opportunity for the Church in Oceania to grow stronger in faith hope and charity”.
The Cross and Icon were then taken to Fiji, to visit the towns of Viti Levu, Levuka and Nadi, on a tour followed by hundreds of local young people, about 400, who hope to take part in World Youth Day in Australia in July next year. A solemn Mass on Pentecost Sunday at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was an intense moment of devotion and joy. Then after stopping at a number of parishes the last appointment was a another solemn Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in the capital Suva.
The tour in Oceania will continue with stops in New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand, and then arrive in Sydney on July 1 this year. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 4/6/2007 righe 26 parole 269)