Young Australians energized by World Youth Day preparations

, Mar 25, 2008 / 06:43 am (CNA) .- World Youth Day preparations in Australia have inspired Catholic young people to grow in their faith as they perform Passion plays and enact Stations of the Cross.

A World Youth Day group in the Western Australia town of Lockridge spent months practicing a Passion play that was performed before a huge crowd of parishioners at Good Shepherd Church on the morning of Good Friday. 

“The spirit of WYD has changed me,” said Maria Vu, a member in the Lockridge World Youth Day group of 42 young people. “I am inspired by other youth at school and in my parish who bear witness to our Catholic faith and our belief in Jesus. I know for sure in Sydney, I will be more aware about the universal Catholic Church in which we are all swept up in the love of Christ. I think WYD is a wonderful thing. It's something that gives life to the Church.”

Father Vinh Dong, the parish priest of Lockridge, said that the impact of the preparatory program for World Youth Day would continue “well beyond” the July event.

“Currently, we want the youth in the parish to know more about their faith and discover what inspires and engages them in the Church. Later, we want them to engage more fully in the life of the Church,” Father Dong said.

About five miles away from the Good Shepherd Church, Catholic and Anglican youth took turns carrying the Cross in the Stations of the Cross.  The ecumenical service, organized by both St. Columba Catholic Church and St. Augustine Anglican Church drew hundreds who walked and prayed down the streets of Bayswater, Australia.

Father Huynh Nguyen, the parish priest of St. Columba’s, said he and his Anglican counterpart Father Peter Manuel have organized the ecumenical Stations of the Cross "to bear witness to our common hope."  The service started at the Anglican church and ended at the Catholic Church, where Father Nguyen gave his blessing to both Catholic and Anglican attendees.

An Anglican student who took turns carrying the cross said, "By walking and praying together, we show people we confess the one faith, and keep the fraternal harmony of the family of God.”

Some Anglican youth reportedly will attend World Youth Day in Sydney with their Catholic friends.