St Patrick’s Cathedral was filled to the brim on Sunday 16 July for the official commissioning Mass and blessing of what is the largest ever contingent from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to attend an overseas World Youth Day. In welcoming the pilgrims and their families to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli said it was an opportunity for the local Church of Melbourne to gather in ‘the mother church’ before travelling to Lisbon, Portugal, for the 16th international World Youth Day.

Almost 600 pilgrims will join more than a million young people from around the world for World Youth Day from 2 to 6 August to share their faith in Jesus Christ through prayer and celebration.

‘World Youth Day is an incredible opportunity for our young people and emerging leaders to experience being part of the universal Church,’ said Archbishop Comensoli earlier this week. ‘We pray that this will be a time of powerful spiritual encounter with the Lord for each pilgrim in their own personal journey of faith.’

Melbourne pilgrims will represent some 134 parishes, schools and movements from across the Archdiocese, including almost 100 students and 60 teachers from 57 Catholic secondary schools at this World Youth Day gathering. They will participate in a range of faith experiences and leadership-development programs en route to Lisbon, including two pilgrimage routes via Italy, and one via the Holy Land, with the first group scheduled to depart on Wednesday 19 July.

During his homily on Sunday, the Archbishop encouraged the pilgrims to open themselves up to God and allow his word to grow in their hearts. ‘In the parable today, the seed that is scattered in various environments is an image of God’s active and accomplishing word … Mary heard the word of God and said yes to it, allowing God’s Word to then grown within her. Might we be like Mary, our Mother and fellow pilgrim, welcoming God’s word into us, and journeying on the path towards life in Christ.’

‘So fellow pilgrims, pick up the word of God and journey with it, knowing that God’s word, when spoken into your lives, will produce an abundance of crops.’

Following the Mass, pilgrims embarked on a ‘mini’ pilgrimage walk towards the Catholic Leadership Centre, just over a kilometre away, where they collected their special World Youth Day pilgrim packs. Sunday’s event was the final gathering of pilgrims before their departure, and a chance for families, friends and communities to pray with them and wish them well.

Join the journey online! Make sure you follow us on our socials to stay up to date with our pilgrims and stay connected in prayer as they travel to World Youth Day Lisbon.