By Catherine Smibert and Anthony Barich
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Young people attending Sydney’s World Youth Day next week are being invited to “come to the water” — to the beach, in fact, for a Franciscan festival.
The Franciscan Province of the Holy Spirit is hosting the July 16 event at Bondi Beach. It will feature a rapping Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, Father Stan Fortuna, and other musicians.
Cardinal Wilfred Napier of Durban, South Africa, who is also a Franciscan, will share a talk on the power of baptism and how it unifies Christians.
The God Squad, an interdenominational motorcycle club, will also be featured at the event. So will New South Wales state president, Dave Hansen, giving his testimony of how he converted to Catholicism after seeing Pope John Paul II during his visit to Australia in 1986.
Franciscan Vicar Provincial Father Paul Smith said he hopes this event will promote Christian unity and strengthen the faith of young people by coming together in the name of justice and peace, while welcoming people of the local Jewish and Muslim communities.
“It is our hope that the youth experience the very special differences in Franciscan culture, while celebrating the very special unity in Franciscan spirituality,” Father Smith said.
Before the Sydney event, the religious will host the 2008 International Franciscan Gathering with Youth in Brisbane, Australia.
WYD Franciscan Coordinator, Ben Galea, said that he was looking forward to seeing other youth who follow the Franciscan way in Brisbane. The Thursday-Sunday event is focused on “St. Francis: Contemplation for Action — Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
“Here there’s a line up of speakers and artists to again reflect the complete Franciscan charism,” Galea said, mentioning a woman promoting peace in Baghdad, a Franciscan spirituality professor and a musician.
“In this spirit,” Father Smith said, “we welcome you Down Under to our great nation Australia, the land beneath the Southern Cross, the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.”
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On the Net:
Come to the Water: www.franciscans.org.au/wyd/wyd.htm