Australian bishop says arrival of WYD cross to Sydney is “historic milestone”

Sydney, Australia, Jul 2, 2007 / 09:20 am (CNA) .- Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney called the arrival on July 1 of the World Youth Day Cross and the icon of the Virgin Mary to the Australian capital a “historic milestone” and said “young people from all over the country are preparing for the arrival and pilgrimage that will follow.”

According to the Italian news agency SIR, Bishop Fisher, who is coordinating the 23rd WYD, said, “There have been unprecedented levels of collaboration, the expectations are evident.”  “We are experiencing the fulfillment of the theme of WYD, because with the Holy Spirit, young people are becoming witnesses of the love of God.”

A day of celebration and prayer is scheduled for the arrival of the WYD symbols, and during the event the official WYD song, “Receive the Power,” will be sung for the first time.  Afterwards the Cross and the icon will begin their long pilgrimage across Australia. “The eyes of all Australians will be on us,” Bishop Fisher said.

Thousands of young people are expected at the airport in Sydney for the arrival of the WYD symbols, including the president of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, Prime Minister John Howard and other officials.

As part of the preparations for the arrival of the Cross and the icon, WYD officials have created “E-pilgrimage,” a virtual pilgrimage that includes a monthly catechesis on a theme related to WYD and testimonies from young people.

Some 120,000 young people so far have signed up to attend WYD 2008.