.- Organizers of World Youth Day (WYD) 2008, to be held in Sydney, Australia, have launched a program called HomeStay to provide housing for the thousands of young people set to attend the event.
The hosting program asks Sydney homeowners to host two or more visiting pilgrims from overseas or outside Sydney.
The approaching World Youth Day, scheduled for July 15th-20th 2008, is expected to involve 500,000 people including 125,000 overseas visitors and up to 175,000 from other parts of Australia.
“World Youth Day will bring the biggest ever contingent of young people to Sydney,” WYD08 Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher OP said.
“Most will be accommodated in schools and parish halls, but we’ll need up to 50,000 to be hosted in homes across Sydney.
“Sydneysiders are a friendly and generous bunch, and we believe many will open their hearts and their homes to young pilgrims from out of town.”
Sydney residents Cheryl Fernandez and her brother Carl stayed with two separate families in Cologne, Germany during World Youth Day 2005, and their family is planning to host pilgrims next year.
“HomeStay is a fantastic way for Sydneysiders to play a very important role in an historic international event,” said Cheryl.
“This is an opportunity to promote Australia’s hospitality and community spirit. It’s not just for Catholics, but the wider Sydney community.
“When I was in Cologne I was treated like a member of the family, and that’s something that I will cherish forever. Now the event is here in Sydney, I want to return the favour and show our overseas visitors the great Australian hospitality that we are renowned for.
“Families that speak a language other than English in particular should get involved and host non-English speaking pilgrims,” she said.
Communities all around Sydney are preparing to take in pilgrims next year. The Fernandez family are part of the Maroubra community which is preparing to take in as many pilgrims as they can house.
HomeStay providers will be asked to supply sleeping spaces and breakfast for two or more pilgrims.
Applications to participate in HomeStay and further details of the program are available now at www.wyd2008.org/homestay or you can find out details through local schools and Catholic parishes.