Australian Catholics Rewire and Reconnect

Bishops Looking to Build on Event's Momentum

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By Catherine Smibert

SYDNEY, Australia, AUG. XX, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Now that the physical sites and structures of Sydney's World Youth Day have been dismantled, other, more spiritual structures, are going up.

The Australian episcopal conference has launched two programs designed to build on the momentum that Benedict XVI's visit here last month generated among the young and old alike.

The Pope was in Sydney to preside over the 23rd World Youth Day, held July 15-20. The event attracted 223,000 registered pilgrims, including 110,000 from 170 nations, making it the largest event ever hosted in Australia.

The country's bishops commissioned Rewired and Reconnect to reach out to those Catholics who were inspired by last month's events to be more involved in their faith.

Both are parish-based programs specifically designed to either help youth to learn more about the Church -- Rewired -- or provide a welcoming environment for adult, non-practicing Catholics to come home -- Reconnect.

Marita Winters, head of the National Office for Evangelisation, is the editor and coordinator of the programs. She told ZENIT that the initiatives reach out to "those young people deeply immersed in their faith, as well as those who haven’t had much to do with the Church.

Rewired was commissioned by the Australian bishops first, but when it was seen that many of those who were inspired by World Youth Day were not just young people and young adults, the conference commissioned Reconnect.

Both programs are conducted over six two-hour sessions, and are designed to be facilitated by active parishioners in collaboration with the parish priest.

Winters said she’s enthused by the queries and responses her offices are receiving in the wake of World Youth Day: “It was envisaged that the interest and enthusiasm flowing from World Youth Day would have a positive impact on the young people touched by the Spirit, and that certainly appears to be the case.”