The Salt + Light crew has left our Toronto broadcast centre and are en route to Austrailia as I type this. They'll arrive in the land down under early Sunday morning, Sydney time (they're 14 hours ahead of Toronto).
Three years have already passed since Cologne, and it's amazing to think that we're a couple of short days away from another World Youth Day. What should we keep our eye on during this year's gathering?
It would certainly be wise to recall the theme from Acts 1:8 -- "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses
." How are pilgrims being witnesses to Christ, how is the Holy Spirit moving in their hearts?
There's Blessed Mary MacKillop -- Australia's first saint. The Sisters of St. Joseph foundress' service to the poor and uneducated is an inspiration for any pilgrim. Will pilgrims incorporate service to others into their pilgrimage? (there's also another nine WYD patrons
to draw inspiration from)
We could also take a glimpse at John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation to the Church of Oceania
. The 2001 document may give us some hints as to themes and topics that may arise. How will the country's diverse cultures and traditions be incorporated into activities? What will be the role of the country's beautiful landscape -- the rugged interior, the stunning Sydney harbor?
Earlier this week the Vatican released statistical information compiled in December 2006 regarding the Catholic Church.
Of the 20.7 million population of Austrlia, about 27.5% consider themselves Catholics (about 5.7 million). There's 33 diocese, 1,390 parishes, 109 pastoral centres, 65 bishops, 3,125 priests, 7,950 religious, 40 lay members of secular institutes, 8,192 catechists, 83 minor seminarians, and 244 major seminarians.
Give or take a few.
The Church is also involved -- to some capacity -- in the operation of 58 hospitals, 5 clinics, 407 homes for the elderly or disabled, 164 orphanages and nurseries, 210 family counselling centres and other pro-life centres, 480 centres for education and social rehabilitation, and 24 institutions of other kinds. There's also 736-thousand children and young people enrolled in over 22-hundred Catholic schools (including universities).
Though in a minority, the Catholic Church certainly has a presence in Australia -- and over the next week it's going to experience something that it's never experienced before!
Stay tuned to the blog for updates from Australia and watch Salt + Light online
for all our coverage. To see a listing of our broadcast schedule for the week click HERE
(keep in mind as we're dealing with live events, times can always shift a bit). Also be sure to check out Zoom
for updates from Sydney beginning Monday.
Our Lady of the Southern Cross, pray for us!