.- Australian university students have pledged to volunteer and work toward making World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, a success. The students were responding to some people who have voiced negative criticisms about the financial cost of the event.
“On behalf of hundreds of university and TAFE students from across Australia, I am guaranteeing our support and pledging volunteers to help make this a reality,” said Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) president Daniel Hill, who attended WYD 2000 in Rome.
He said he has already received phone calls from university students enthusiastic to volunteer.
Australian youth, who attended WYD 2005 in Cologne, are hopeful that the event will help renew the Catholic Church in Australia.
“WYD rejuvenated my faith and put me in contact with Catholics from all over the world,” said Annalise Wurtsthorn, a 24-year-old student at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
“Australia will benefit from the energy of the pilgrims, their enthusiasm, gratitude and excitement and the opportunity to give hospitality and welcome to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from overseas,” she said.
“There is a real optimism that WYD Sydney will change the face of the Church in Australia forever,” said Australian pilgrim John Smyth. “We’ve been out partying every night since the news and we can’t wait to get back and join other Aussie students at the Sept. 4 celebrations.”
ACSA members, who went to WYD in Cologne, will gather at St Mary’s Cathedral Sept. 4 with other Catholic youth and then hit the city’s cafes and pubs to celebrate the good news.
Hill urges other Australian youth to participate in the Sept. 4 event, which will be simulated in other capital cities across Australia.
“There is no question that [WYD 2008] will bring many of those young Catholics who have stopped going to Church back to the faith,” said ACSA secretary Joanna Hayes, who is looking forward to the opportunity of experiencing WYD first hand. “We will see a revitalization of local youth groups and universities societies across Australia,” she predicted.