Saturday, July 12, 2008

WYD: 2 Indians to Serve Pope's Mass

Chance To Meet Pope, Make New Friends Excites Indian WYD Participants

By Dini Philip

July 10, 2008

NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- Northern Indian delegates to World Youth Day (WYD) 2008 say the high point of their Australian pilgrimage will be meeting the pope.

"We are anxiously waiting to meet the Holy Father," Robin Masih said on July 6, the eve of his departure to the July 15-20 celebration in Sydney, Australia. He told UCA News he was anxious about his first airplane trip.

The 21-year-old delegate from Jalandhar diocese in Punjab state, northern India, expects to learn from the other people going to the WYD celebration from around the world. "I want to know how their life is different from ours," he said. He was taking traditional Punjabi dress with him to perform bhangra, a local dance.

The Indian Church is sending 510 delegates to the event, its largest contingent ever for any overseas Church program, according to Church officials. Masih traveled to Australia with 39 others from various states in northern India. They left from New Delhi. Similar teams left from Chennai in the south, Kolkata in the east and Mumbai in the west.

Preeti, another first-time overseas traveler, said her parents were initially afraid to send her, but later agreed and borrowed money from relatives for the trip. The 19-year-old is one of eight female members of the delegation's Punjabi contingent. She recounted that her parents and relatives all went to the railway station to see her off and cried when she departed for New Delhi. "For us, going abroad is a big thing," she told UCA News.

Like Masih, she looks forward to meeting the pope. "We feel very lucky and privileged to meet the Holy Father and other young people from all over the world," she said, adding that she too would join in the bhangra performance.

Preeti noted that she wanted to bring along some homemade food but the guidelines clearly prohibit this. However, she did bring along photographs of her parents, brothers and sisters to show to her host family in Australia.

The Indian delegates will stay with families in 15 parishes in New Zealand's Auckland diocese and Australia's Bathurst diocese before leaving for Sydney on July 14.

They will interact with local people and participate in activities the hosts organize such as visiting nursing homes, planting trees and learning about local aboriginal cultures. On July 12, they will celebrate a family day that will include sports events and exchanging life experiences with their hosts.

Deepti Kujur, another delegate, is especially happy the pope is to join the youths on July 17, her birthday. "This would be a lifetime gift for me," said the 22 year-old from Bhopal archdiocese in Madhya Pradesh state, central India. She said she wants to make friends from various nations while in Australia, and expects the pilgrimage will help "build leadership quality in us and motivate us to do more for the Church and society."

The only member from another religion in the group that left from New Delhi was Jashleen Kaur. The 27-year-old Sikh works as an office assistant at the Indian bishops' youth commission. What excites her most about the trip is the chance to stay with Catholic families.

The Sikh woman told UCA News her parents are "happy and proud" she is attending "such a great event." She added that she is "very fond" of Christianity and goes to church more often than to a gurudwara, or Sikh temple.

Kaur said the Indian delegates would attend the program in the traditional local dress of their respective regions and carry the national flag.

Another excited member in the group was Sapna Robert, one of two Indians selected to serve at the papal Mass. "It is the best I could get, to be near the pope while he celebrates Mass," said the 25-year-old general secretary of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement. The other Indian scheduled to serve at that Mass is Sajish Jose, the movement's president.

Reproduced with permission from UCA News (

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