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Sydney, Australia - 15-20 July 2008



I. General Outline of WYD 2008

1. Theme

The theme for the 23rd World Youth Day is “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses ” (Acts 1:8). In preparation for WYD in Australia, the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict XVI proposed a three-year itinerary in which young people would follow a thread connecting the Holy Spirit with mission. 2006 focused on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, who leads us to Jesus Christ and allows us to meet him personally, especially in the Word of God. In 2007 the focus is on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Love, who helps us see the needs of our brothers and sisters and urges us to put the Word of God into action through charity. The theme for 2008 will help us to understand that the Holy Spirit, Spirit of courage and witness, awakens our charity, renews us within and gives us the strength to proclaim and witness to the Gospel.

The Holy Father will send his customary message to the youth of the world illustrating the WYD theme. As soon as it is available, the Pontifical Council for the Laity will send it to bishops’ conferences and international youth movements, associations and communities. It will also be accessible on the Vatican website: The message for 2007 is already available. (The messages will also be reachable through the Sydney World Youth Day website).

2. Programme of events (15-20 July 2008)

World Youth Day will be officially opened at the Opening Mass presided by Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, on Tuesday 15 July 2008. It will take place at a large venue within central Sydney to be announced by the organisers soon.

The 16, 17 and 18 July 2008 will be a “triduum” or three days of preparation leading up to the Vigil and Mass with the Holy Father.

The traditional catechesis will take place on each of these three mornings. Bishops from all over the world will give catechesis in specific languages in churches and meeting halls around metropolitan Sydney.

Throughout the three days, special importance will be given to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It will be available in various languages at the catechesis sites, and especially at the Reconciliation Centre adjacent to Saint Mary’s Cathedral. This Centre will also have place for Eucharistic adoration and prayer beside the WYD Cross.

In the afternoons and evenings of these three days (16, 17, 18 July) the Youth Festival will take place (cf n.3) at locations around the city centre.

The welcome for the Holy Father will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 17 July with the Holy Father travelling by boat on Sydney Harbour to a solemn Welcome Ceremony at the same central Sydney location as the Opening Mass.

On Friday 18 July in the evening there will be the Way of the Cross through the streets of Sydney and along the foreshores of Sydney Harbour.

The culmination of World Youth Day will be the Vigil with the Holy Father on Saturday night 19 July and the Papal Mass on the morning of Sunday 20 July. This will take place at Randwick Racecourse, 9 km from Sydney city centre. The Pilgrim Walk to the Racecourse will include a walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

3. Youth Festival

The Youth Festival will take place in different parts of Sydney during the afternoons and evenings from 16 to 18 July (except for the time dedicated to the Welcome Ceremony and the Way of the Cross). The purpose of the Youth Festival is to allow young people from all over the world to share their artistic, religious and spiritual experiences of faith and life.

Groups wishing to present an activity to be included in the Youth Festival programme should consult the website of the Sydney WYD 2008 Office and follow the indications given. They will be asked to send an outline programme as soon as possible and certainly before 26 October 2007 to the Sydney WYD 2008 Office.

Activities should reflect the spirit of World Youth Day. They should be:

- open to all without charge
- inspired by the pastoral theme of World Youth Day
- simple and straightforward in style
- characterised by clear religious content

Following these criteria, the Youth Festival will include prayer meetings, vigils, exhibits, concerts, recitals, theatre, dance and film presentations, gatherings with diocesan bishops, and get-togethers prepared by movements, associations, communities and religious congregations.

Locations will be assigned by Youth Festival coordinators after giving full consideration to the wishes and requirements of the promoting groups. As far as possible, basic technical equipment will be provided by the Sydney WYD 2008 organisers.

The Sydney WYD 2008 Office and the Pontifical Council for the Laity will examine all proposals.  The final programme will be published in the “Pilgrim’s Handbook”.

4. Days in the Australian and New Zealand Dioceses (10-14 July 2008)

It has become a tradition of World Youth Day for the dioceses of the host country to offer hospitality  to young pilgrims on their way to the WYD host city. The dioceses of Australia (with the exception of the WYD host diocese, Sydney, and the other dioceses of metropolitan Sydney - Broken Bay, Parramatta and Wollongong), and those of New Zealand, extend this invitation in 2008 to all groups from around the world who would like to avail of this opportunity.

The people of the host dioceses will welcome their guests into their homes, parishes and communities for several days.  Activities will include gatherings with the local Church community, cultural activities, guided tours, prayer, visits to local shrines, and social engagement.

Host dioceses offer simple accommodation free of charge. Participants will have to cover their own travel expenses (including travel to Sydney).

Information about the dioceses and practical details can be found on the Sydney WYD website:


II. Practical organisation

1. Registration

All those wishing to participate in the 23rd World Youth Day need to register officially. Registration is essential for all groups and individuals, including those arranging their own accommodation, those staying in hotels, and young people from the diocese of Sydney. Only those who have registered will have passes for WYD events.

World Youth Day activities are addressed to young people. Participants should be between the ages of 16 and 35. This is also for insurance reasons. Group leaders must be at least 18. However, priests and group leaders who are older than 35 will be welcome.

Group registrations (phase 1) open in March 2007 on the Sydney WYD08 website Bishops’ conferences, movements, associations, communities and other groups are invited to collect the names of those who will travel with them and to register them on the website

The new registration system set up by the Sydney WYD 2008 Office requires that all registrations, Australian and from other countries, will be collected directly by the Office.

Groups and individuals who are unable to register over the internet should request a registration form from the Sydney Office (see address below).

At the start of the registration process, a unique number is given to each group that should be used in further communications.

All pilgrims who are not Australian or New Zealand citizens will need an entry visa for Australia. After the Phase 2 registration opens in July 2007, group leaders will have to provide certain details about each individual member of the group. The procedure for visa application is incorporated in the registration system. The mechanism and time required vary according to the nationality of the applicant.

In some cases, to meet the requirements of the Australian Government, local bishops will need to provide a statement of support for the pilgrim’s application for a visa. More details will be available closer to the opening of the full registration phase.

2. Solidarity Fund

According to the tradition of World Youth Day, a Solidarity Fund has been established in order to assist young people from less privileged countries to make the journey to the host city. Each participant is asked to contribute at least 10 euro (US$ 13) to the Fund. Of course, it is possible to give a larger sum as a contribution to this solidarity effort, and this would be very much appreciated by young pilgrims travelling from poor countries.

The Sydney WYD 2008 Office ask that all groups (including Australians) should pay their contribution by credit card over the internet through the website Group leaders should collect the quotas from their group members and pay them together in the course of registration. The funds will then be assigned to the corresponding Fund being managed by the Pontifical Council for the Laity or by the Sydney WYD 2008 Office.

The Australian Office will use the funds coming from Australian and New Zealand pilgrims in order to reduce the price of the packages for young people coming from lower middle and low income Oceania countries (World Bank classification).

The Pontifical Council for the Laity will use the rest of the funds to subsidise the travel expenses of young people from other continents coming from countries undergoing economic or political difficulties. Requests for financial aid will be considered if they are presented by bishops’ conferences or dioceses with the bishop’s signature, or by international movements, associations and communities with the international president’s signature.

3. Payments for the stay in Sydney for WYD

The Sydney WYD 2008 Office will organise accommodation, meals, public transport in Sydney and insurance for registered pilgrims and will provide each one with a pilgrim’s bag. The  WYD 2008 Office will have three different packages available for participants. Prices and details of these packages can be found on the Sydney WYD 2008 Office website

4. Accommodation in Sydney

Two types of accommodation are offered by the WYD 2008 Office: “simple” (recommended as it provides more opportunities for experiences of fellowship and solidarity), and “alternative” accommodation. The group’s preference should be clearly indicated when registering.

4.1 Simple accommodation

Those who choose this option (included in package A) need to bring sleeping bags and ground mats with them. Accommodation possibilities include family stays and accommodation in schools, parish halls, gymnasiums, etc. These options will provide water, washrooms, toilets and shower facilities. Lodging places included in the packages are available from Monday 14 July until Monday morning 21 July.

Where necessary, groups can request the Sydney WYD 2008 Office to arrange budget accommodation for up to six extra nights (between Friday 11 July and Wednesday 23 July). The additional cost will be low.

On Saturday night, 19 July, participants will spend the night in the open with sleeping bags at Randwick Racecourse where the Vigil and Papal Mass will take place. They are advised to bring warm clothing as night time temperatures can be low in Sydney at that time of year.

4.2 Alternative accommodation

This kind of accommodation is for those who prefer to stay in a hotel or guesthouse, etc. Groups register for WYD in the normal way. Hotel booking and payment can be done online during the registration process through the Sydney WYD2008 office. These accommodation costs are paid by participants in addition to the package chosen (B or C).

All participants, even those staying in hotels, etc., should bring a sleeping bag and ground mat for the night of Saturday 19 July at Randwick Racecourse.

5. Young people with special needs

The Australian WYD 2008 Office will take into account the special needs of young people with handicap in order to provide the facilities necessary to insure that each person can participate fully in WYD. Details of such special needs should be recorded as part of the normal registration process.

6. Minors

All young people under the age of 18 must be accompanied by adults and carry written authorization from parents or guardians (the relevant form can be downloaded from the internet site, or it can be requested from the Sydney WYD 2008 Office). Pilgrims under 16 will not be registered but family groups may attend all public events.

7. Voluntary Service

Volunteers will have an important role in ensuring a successful WYD 2008. Those (over 18s) interested in volunteering during World Youth Day can apply through the Sydney WYD 2008 Office internet site. (See the “WYD08 Team” section).



Pontifical Council for the Laity
Youth Section
I - 00120 - Vatican City
Tel. +39 06 698 87244;
Fax +39 06 698 87112


World Youth Day 2008
Polding Centre, 133 Liverpool Street,
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel. +61 2 9390 5900 
Fax +61 2 9390 5905