Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - Almost 2000 groups representing more than 120,000 people have registered to attend the world's largest youth event in Sydney next year. Although still more than a year away, overseas group registrations for World Youth Day Sydney 2008 (WYD08) have been coming in strongly, suggesting the target of 125,000 international pilgrims may be exceeded, organisers say. "Almost 100,000 international pilgrims are expected at this point in time, and nearly 23,000 Australians," Chief Operating Officer Danny Casey said.
"We expect the numbers of Australian pilgrims to grow much stronger as we get closer to the event," Mr Casey said. WYD08 will be held from 15-20 July 2008, and will feature the first visit to Australia by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. The top 12 source countries, with current expected pilgrim numbers, are: United States 30,400 Australia 22,900 Italy 15,400 Germany 8,000 New Zealand 4,200 France 3,700 Spain 2,900 India 2,600 Venezuela 2,400 Fiji 2,000 Nigeria 2,000 Mexico 1,800.
"Receive The Power" WYD 2008 Hymn written by Guy Sebastian, will be officially launched on Sunday 1 July to coincide with the arrival in Australia of the World Youth Day Cross accompanied by the Icon of Our Lady. In preparation for the event next year in Sydney WYD08, coordinator Fr Anthony Fisher OP, has created an e-PILGRIMAGE which will give a monthly catechesis subject inspired by the theme of the WYD event, testimony of young people who took part in previous WYD, lives of the saints, and a virtual visit to places of pilgrimage and information for the journey to Sydney. Individual registration will start at the end of July 2007. (K.P.) (Agenzia Fides 27/6/2007; righe 14, parole 204)