History: World Youth Day 2008 in Australia

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The 23rd World Youth Day was a Catholic youth festival held on 15-20 July 2008 in Sydney, Australia. It was the first World Youth Day held in Oceania. This meeting was decided by Pope Benedict XVI, during the Cologne World Youth Day of 2005. The theme was "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you" (from Acts 1:8). About 500,000 young people from 200 countries attended during the week, and more than 1,000,000 came for the weekend. They were joined by about 600 bishops and cardinals, as well as by 6,600 reporters. In the week preceding the main event, many young Catholic pilgrims spent time in different parts of Australia and New Zealand, staying with a local parish as part of the Days in the Dioceses. After their stay, they travelled to Sydney for the Opening Mass of the week-long main event. The Pope arrived at Sydney on 13 July at Richmond Air Force Base in North Western Sydney. On 15 July, World Youth Day 2008 began with the Opening Mass, followed by a concert. During next days a huge meeting with the Pope at Barangaroo took part, as well as Cross Way through the city, and a pilgrimage from Mary MacKillop Chapel to Randwick Raceourse, where the Final Mass was celebrated on Sunday 20 July - a place that hosted papal Mases also during visits of Paul VI and John Paul II. At the conclusion of the Mass the Pope announced that Madrid will be the host of the next 2011 meeting. WYD 2008 was the first World Youth Day to take full advantage of telecommunications, with Pope Benedict sending text messages to the pilgrims during the week. Each pilgrim who registered for WYD had the option of providing a mobile phone number to which the Pontiff's message would be sent at the beginning of each day. Pope Benedict XVI departed from Sydney Airport on 21 July. During the farewell ceremony Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced, that Australia is sending first time in history a resident ambassador to the Holy See in Rome.
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