Media Release -- May 4, 2008

Researchers studying World Youth Day Attenders

More than 200,000 pilgrims from 180 countries will be attending World Youth Day in Sydney in July.  Held every three years, World Youth Day is the largest youth event in the world and Australia is hosting it this year. World Youth Day Pilgrims will be participating in a week-long series of events, festivals and celebrations, culminating in a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. WYD08 is expected to attract more international visitors than the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

What are young people hoping for from this major event? High on the priority list for many of the World Youth Day Pilgrims are: seeing the Pope, feeling part of a huge crowd united by shared beliefs and learning more about their faith.  Few, it seems, are going just to sightsee or party or just to experience the 'buzz' of being at a big youth event. Pilgrims are also expecting that going to WYD will help them find a stronger sense of Catholic identity and a greater commitment to their faith. Interestingly, it appears the event is drawing quite a number of young people who have not been much involved with their church in recent years. 

These are some of the findings coming from the first phase of a multi-stage study of World Youth Day Pilgrims. A  team from Australian Catholic University and Monash University is conducting this research, which involves face-to-face interviews and one of the largest online surveys ever conducted in Australia. In-depth interviews have been conducted with teenagers from schools, with university students and those in the workforce. The online component opened May 2nd with more than 160,000 intending pilgrims invited to have their say about WYD08, sharing why they are coming, what they hope for, and details about their style of spirituality.