Salesian World Youth Day pilgrims took their first step on the journey to Madrid at a Commissioning Mass celebrated by Australia – Pacific Salesian Provincial, Fr Francis Moloney, at St John’s Church in Clifton Hill, Melbourne.
More than 70 young pilgrims from Salesian schools, Don Bosco Camp and other works throughout Australia and Samoa will journey to Madrid in August to celebrate World Youth Day. They will join thousands of other young Catholics from all around the world including more than 5000 members of the world-wide Salesian Family.
The Commissioning Day began with a gathering of the young people. Together they selected and prepared their scallop shells –the traditional symbol of the pilgrim. These were blessed at the Mass. The shells will be carried throughout the expedition as a physical reminder that this is a special journey of faith. The day culminated in the Mass and Blessing concelebrated by Fr Moloney, Fr Bernie Graham, Fr John Papworth, and Fr Martin Tanti. Fr Moloney told the young people that World Youth Day would offer each of them the adventure of a life time and a rich spiritual experience. The central message of World Youth Day was an affirmation, despite the messages of a modern world, that “it was okay to love God, and it was okay to love each other”. Friends and family witnessed the commissioning and joined in the prayers and blessing for a safe journey.
The Salesian pilgrims gather in Italy in early August and tour the great cultural and religious sites of Rome before heading to the birthplace of Don Bosco – Turin. Here they will visit the key Salesian sites before flying to Madrid for a week of World Youth Day festivities culminating in the all night Vigil and Mass celebrated by His Holiness, Pope Benedict.