These Year 10 and 11 students from eight diocesan schools join another 55 pilgrims travelling to Krakow, Poland, from the diocese.
In the words of Brian Lacey, WYD Co-ordinator and Head of Religious Education at the Catholic Schools Office, these students all “stand out as leaders within their school and community”.
The pilgrims are from St Paul’s High School, Booragul, St Pius X High School, Adamstown, San Clemente High School, Mayfield, St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, All Saints College, St Peter’s Campus, Maitland, All Saints College, St Mary’s Campus, Maitland, St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton and St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen.
San Clemente High School, Mayfield student, Johanna Soo (pictured), is one of four Year 10 students travelling to Europe for the pilgrimage, and is eagerly anticipating embarking on this “discipleship with Jesus”.
“After initially being hesitant, I realised that this was what Jesus wanted me to be part of and may well be the best experience of my life at the young age of 15,” says Johanna.
“I feel that through my attendance in this year's pilgrimage, I am part of this discipleship with Jesus and my faith where I can wholeheartedly follow the Lord.
“I hope that my experience of WYD will provide me with a sense of sacrifice which will give me a deeper appreciation for the life I have been blessed with, and hope that my own personal transformation may be those expressed in the words of the Australian Prayer for WYD 2016.
That I may marvel at the beauty of my neighbour’s heart. That I may be attentive to those in need, that all I proclaim is in love and peace. That I use them to serve my neighbour. That my pilgrim journey leads me to compassion, ever open to the joy of your presence, rest upon me and transform me into Yourself, for You are my all."
Johanna is also looking forward to all that comes travelling overseas for the first time saying, “I am looking forward to experiencing the different cultures in other countries and experiencing the unique traditions of how countries celebrate, commemorate and reflect on the miracle of Jesus.”
“I will also appreciate the different foods - especially the gelato in Italy!” enthuses Johanna.
After attending the 2015 Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Adelaide, All Saints College, St Peter’s Campus, Maitland student, John Leao (pictured), also in Year 10, knew he wanted to experience WYD.
“I wanted to be a part of WYD because it is an experience not too many young people like me are privileged to go on, and I know experiencing God’s love and compassion throughout the pilgrimage will be life changing for me, both emotionally and physically,” says John.
“I’m hoping the pilgrimage will allow me to further explore God’s love and compassion and create deeper ties with my faith as a whole.”
John also hopes that the pilgrimage experience will help him to gain a better understanding of the Church’s message on key issues and enable him to share his experiences through his actions and words.
“I think the WYD experience will help me to understand the broader scale of issues in the world and I can bring back my experience and share it with others,” says John.
Pilgrimage Co-ordinators, Brian and Sue Lacey, will lead pilgrims to follow in the footsteps of the saints through Venice, Padua, Milan, Siena, Assisi, Cascia, Rome and Naples, then to Krakow.
A live feed has been set up on the diocesan news site mnnews.today for all your WYD updates.