Aussies Get a Pre-Youth Day Taste of Spain

Some 80 Charisms Prepare Vocation Stands for Madrid

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MELBOURNE, Australia, MAY 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Students at Australian Catholic University are readying for their August trip to Madrid with a preview of Spanish culture.

The "Alegria" (joy) program is giving students a bit of the World Youth Day experience, even for those who won't be able to gather with the Pope.

Thérèse Nichols, national formation coordinator for mission and identity, explained how campuses celebrated "Viva Day," with Spanish music, food and games.

"Viva day not only boosted our registrations but gave every campus a little taste of what WYD will be like in Madrid!" she said.

Blessed JPII, we love you

Nearly 100 Australian students will have the chance to follow in the footsteps of the founder of World Youth Days, Blessed John Paul II.

This group of pilgrims will explore Poland and Rome, and then finish with a post-WYD retreat in Fatima.

Nichols explained, "We will experience the enchanting ancient city of Krakow where John Paul II was a secret seminarian during the Nazi occupation, where he was ordained and where he ran a thriving youth ministry. ... We will visit Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp, and be introduced to two great heroes there, the Franciscan martyr of charity, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Edith Stein, the great Jewish Carmelite philosopher."

Once back in Australia, students will continue with the Alegria program, which will offer fellowship and guest speakers for ongoing formation.

Vocation event

Following what is now a World Youth Day tradition, the Madrid event will include a Vocations Fair at Parque del Retiro.

Some 80 stands will represent as many movements and institutions, giving young people a look at the variety of charisms in the Church.