German Families Open Their Doors for Youth Day

20,000 Volunteers Poised to Help With August Event

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COLOGNE, Germany, MAY 8, 2005 ( Families in Cologne have offered 58,000 places for young people to stay during World Youth Day this August.

With 100 days left to go, the residents’ generous response has even surprised the organizers of the event, who requested 80,000 beds, reported the Italian newspaper Avvenire. Benedict XVI is scheduled to appear at the event.

Meanwhile, preparations continue to receive some 800,000 participants for the event that will take place Aug. 15-21.

The number of volunteers registered to assist with the organization already exceeds 20,000, the figure originally requested. Almost 1,500 of them are non-Catholic Christians, and more than 500 either practice a non-Christian religion, or are atheist.

Volunteers will be in charge of order, information, the distribution of meals and support for the handicapped.

Christoph Wild, director of the organization of the volunteers, is pleased because 20,000 individuals — 70% younger than 30 — already guarantee the normal functioning of the different World Youth Day activities.

The volunteers represent different nationalities, although most of them are from Germany, and they will not be financially compensated for their work. Their travel and accommodation expenses, however, will be covered and they will be given a pilgrim’s backpack.

The World Youth Day cross is back in Cologne, after having been taken to many cities of the continent and German dioceses in spiritual preparation for the event. Last Saturday, the cross was taken in procession to the Cathedral of Altenberg.

Hundreds of young people of local Catholic associations accompanied the cross for 25 kilometers (15 miles), praying and singing WYD songs, which have already been recorded on a CD.

The German government has allocated 7.5 million euros to World Youth Day, in addition to the necessary logistics for the security of the Pope and participants.

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