The Pilgrim Support Program, which is jointly funded by the ACBC, CCI and Cosmos, the official Australian tour operator for World Youth Day, provides financial support to young people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to attend the event.
Bishops and youth ministry leaders across the country were asked to nominate emerging youth ministry leaders who they felt would most benefit from the personal and spiritual development to be gained by attending World Youth Day.
According to the ACBC Office for Youth and the World Youth Day Committee, recipients' "light and faith shone bright" throughout the application process.
"The selected applicants are strong candidates who will undoubtedly absorb and relish all that World Youth Day has to offer," says Office for Youth Director, Malcolm Hart. "The pilgrims' faith journey and their World Youth Day pilgrimage will be interesting to follow and share with others."
Josh Wells, from the Diocese of Bunbury, is one of the recipients. Currently completing a Bachelor orf Education at the University of Notre Dame, Josh hopes to one day teach in the Diocese. He says he was thrilled when he heard the news.
"I've been wanting to go to World Youth Day for many years, but as a student it's just never been possible financially," says Josh. "I've heard so many stories from friends and youth ministers. It's just awesome I've finally got a chance to go."
"It was a massive surprise when the Youth Ministry Coordinator for the Diocese told me about the nomination. I'm so appreciative of the opportunity."
Josh will travel to Poland with a group from the Diocese, including a high school friend who also received funding through the Pilgrim Support Program.
"What I'm most excited about is meeting people from around the world with the same shared faith. I'm also really looking forward to spending time in the Diocese of Warsaw and experiencing Polish culture."
Josh, who is heavily involved with Youth Ministry in Bunbury and is an acolyte at his local Church, St Damien's Parish in Dawesville, plans to share his experience at the next Youth Ministry camp or retreat, and may also do a presentation at the Bunbury Cathedral.
Troy Mardigan from Daly River in the Northern Territory shared his excitement ( via video) about "being able to experience God…a different way from your own back yard", after discovering he was also going to World Youth Day. He too already has plans to share his experience and empower others when he returns.
CCI's support for World Youth Day doesn't end with the Pilgrim Support Program. It includes insurance protection, advice and a comprehensive risk management program delivered by our risk management specialists.
CCI Risk Consultant Chris Hall has been the key contact for the Office for Youth. Last year they travelled to Poland together and Chris continues to work closely with The Office, the Australian World Youth Day Committee, Cosmos, individual pilgrim groups and various other stakeholders.
With around 2,800 Australian pilgrims preparing to travel to Poland in only a few weeks time the pace of work has been steadily increasing.
"Launching our online learning course for pilgrimage coordinators in May was a significant milestone," says Chris.
"We also recently facilitated a successful webinar with risk management consultancy Terra Firma on travel risks, hosted by the XT3, and have a similar session planned focusing on travel risk awareness and strategies for the observant pilgrim leader."
Malcolm Hart says CCI's financial contribution has been fantastic and describes the organisational support as "phenomenal".
"It's been a really special occasion to be able to support these pilgrims," he says. "And the work that Chris has done, helping us identify and manage our risks has been priceless."
Malcolm says the difference in planning this year compared to previous years has been marked.
"Pilgrimage groups are in a much better position, and it's not just that their paperwork is in order, their whole mindset is different. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Chris, and CCI as a whole, have walked this journey with us."
Planning for the next World Youth Day for both CCI and the Office for Youth will begin before the close of celebrations in Poland, but for now, CCI would like to congratulate the 12 young recipients and wish them well as they begin their pilgrimage to Krakow.
May your World Youth Day experience be all you dreamed it would be.
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