SINGAPORE – "The gathering of young people is always an occasion for great rejoicing," Archbishop Nicholas Chia told some 400 people who gathered for the commissioning of pilgrims who will be going for World Youth Day 2008 at Sydney in July. The commissioning ceremony was held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre on Jun 21.

"The most important problem of youths today is that they have no time for God, and only have time for fun. That you are preparing to go for World Youth Day shows you have time for God," he told the attentive audience.

Archbishop Chia reminded the pilgrims present that in order to make this journey of theirs meaningful, they need to realize that they are "precious" and "lovable". This is so that "you can communicate this to others".

He also reminded the pilgrims that they have a mission to "share Christ with others" at the World Youth Day, and that after the world event, they will "come back with a mission to build up the church here" in Singapore.

"Many wonderful things will happen, but it depends on how open you are, how predisposed you are to experiencing them," he reminded the audience.

Archbishop Chia conducted the commissioning service with a para-liturgy consisting of a gospel reading, a homily, intercessory prayers, and the blessing of souvenirs to be brought to Sydney.

A representative from the Australian High Commission in Singapore, Dieter Michel, was also present to share information regarding Australian-Singaporean relations.

Mr Michel introduced the pilgrims to several common Australian greetings and responses, recommended several tourist attractions, and cautioned the pilgrims to bring warm clothing for the chilly winter season.

There will be 369 pilgrims from Singapore in 15 contingents making their way to World Youth Day in Sydney. Depending on their itinerary, some contingents will be attending various gatherings and "days in the diocese" programmes.

The archdiocesan contingent will be attending pre-World Youth Day programmes in the Australian Diocese of Melbourne, before flying to Sydney for the start of the WYD2008 proper on Jul 15. -By Daniel Tay

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