After Youth Day, What Now?

Miami Ministry Launches Site to Connect Pilgrims

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By Kathleen Naab

MIAMI, Florida, JULY 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- God Squad, a ministry dedicated to evangelizing through the media, has a solution for Youth Day pilgrims eager to stay in touch with new friends they met in Sydney.

The Web site WYDChallenge.com aims to provide a forum for pilgrims to stay connected by way of service projects. God Squad Communications, its sponsor, is based out of the Archdiocese of Miami.

"Registered pilgrims will receive monthly community service challenges that will have them involved in a variety of activities in their local diocese," the general director of God Squad Communications, Christopher Wills, told ZENIT. "Challenges can include donating their time at a local hospital, organizing a food drive, or using their talents for simple acts of kindness. Our global partner organizations will also sponsor some of our challenges."

Wills explained that the service projects are "a concrete way for our registered pilgrims to witness to the world with the power they’ve received from the Holy Spirit."

And as the service projects are completed, the pilgrims can share their photos or video with fellow youth dayers on the site.

Benedict XVI reminded World Youth Day volunteers in Sydney that it is more blessed to give than receive, but God Squad is offering pilgrims some less spiritual benefits for their service hours.

"The community service projects will also give the pilgrims the opportunity to donate their time with one of our partner organizations, which can award them community service hours through our site," Wills explained. "WYDChallenge.com will include a monthly leader board that will track which pilgrims have completed the most community service hours that month as they take on our challenge. Those registered pilgrims at the top of our monthly leader board each month will qualify for a chance to win a trip to the next World Youth Day."

WYDChallenge.com will give pilgrims a chance to connect for pure social interaction as well.

"Our site will allow you to search all of our registered pilgrims by various criteria including the World Youth Day they participated in, their country of origin, or their name," Wills said. "Once connected on WYDChallenge.com, pilgrims will be able to keep in touch by messaging each other through the site, leaving comments on each other’s profiles, sharing prayer requests, chatting in our community room, and a multitude of other methods of communication that we are developing."

This site will be an updated version of itself, the original version having been used for World Youth Day promotion. "When our first challenge came to a close in March 2008," Wills noted, "after hundreds of thousands had visited our site, we began working on developing a whole new challenge for pilgrims from every continent to help the message of World Youth Day live on in ever corner of the globe within our reach."