As if you didn't know, the World Youth Day 2008 is in Sydney, Australia. Cardinal George Pell, a bishop I admire a great deal, was instrumental in bringing Catholicism's second largest function to a often forgotten corner of Christendom, much like Cardinal Joachim Meisner was for Koln in 2005.
I had the opportunity to work in Koln for WYD 2005. I was one of 3 dozen poor souls sentenced to 2 weeks hard labour in the registration centre in the Koelnmesse. Everyday we started with a group prayer, some readings and a few hymns. It was all put together by our selfless supervisor, Remco, a Dutch seminarian whose contact information I have sadly lost. Because of those moments of prayer, we were able to manage the extra 100,000 people our centre had to service because of an email malfunction.
WYD's have come under intense scrutiny from sources within and outside the Church. Der Spiegel, the German equivalent of Time Magazine, estimated the conference would be a colossal waste of money. Hans Kung claimed it was little more than a concert. Ultramontain Catholics called it a hub of licentiousness, an expression of superficial religiosity at best. For me and my fiance, it was a key part of our return to Christ. I met many people whom I now consider dear friends. I was able to discuss Mary one night with a seminarian from Brazil, an Italian, and a Lithuanian. I talked with many non-Catholic men and women about what it now means to be a Christian in a non-Christian society. I prayed the daily office. I learned about Taize, Opus Dei, the Neo-Catechumenate Way, Communio et Liberatio, and the Fransican Sisters of the Renewal. I confessed my sins with a Malaysian priest. I don't think I'd get the same from any concert or cesspool of debauchery.