Plaque Commemorates World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia

Inaugurated in downtown Sydney, a commemorative plaque recalls the 2008 World Youth Day. The small object will immortalize one of the greatest events of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Newsroom (31/07/2022 3:30 PM, Gaudium Press) A commemorative plaque has been unveiled in downtown Sydney by Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, and his predecessor Cardinal George Pell.

The plaque recalls World Youth Day 2008, considered the largest gathering of people at a festival in Australia’s history.

The memorial was unveiled in Barangaroo, where Pope Benedict XVI landed to the cheers of thousands.

Australia’s largest assembly of people

More than 400,000 people attended the Mass celebrated by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse.

Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney at the time, said there were more attendees at WYD 2008 than at the Beijing Olympic games the same year.

“It was one of the largest gatherings in Australian history and we had 112,000 visitors from overseas,” the Cardinal said.

Historic moment for the Church in Australia

Archbishop Fisher described the event as a historic moment for the Catholic Church in the country. That year, he was Auxiliary Bishop and responsible for organizing Youth Day.

“Many remember it as the happiest and holiest week in Sydney’s history,” the Archbishop declared.

“Benedict XVI expressed his confidence that our young people, animated by the Holy Spirit like the first disciples, would be able to face whatever life threw at them,” Archbishop Fisher recalled.

A legacy that continues to bear fruit

Even after 14 years of the event, the Archbishop of Sydney says the fruits are still visible in priestly and religious vocations and family life among the laity.

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Commenting on the recent Corpus Christi procession, in which 13,000 people participated, the Archbishop said, “World Youth Day 2008 left its mark on our souls.

An initiative of a group of enthusiastic young people

WYD was born with the initiative of a group of young Catholics from Sydney. Afterwards, the enthusiasm of the young people spread to the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of the country.

Among the young people who took the initiative for the day was Selina Hasham. She recalls that one of the most beautiful moments of the Journey was the contribution of the aboriginal and island Catholics.

“There was a wonderful moment in Barangaroo when Pope Benedict XVI hugged an Aboriginal deacon, Boniface Perdjert,” Selina recalled.

WYD 2008 Sydney. Credit: Socrates, source: wikipedia.

Impossible not to admire

Former WYD general director Roy Wakelin-King summed up the importance and outcome of the event:

“It was a great vision of the Church to bring an event like this to Sydney and even if you weren’t Catholic or particularly religious, you couldn’t help but admire the genuine warmth and enthusiasm the young people showed for their faith.” (FM)

Compiled by Zephania Gangl

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