Last March, AD2000 proposed that its readers should help young Catholics from East Timor to attend World Youth Day 2008. This followed a request by the Provincial of the Salesian Missions in East Timor, when visiting Australia, for assistance to help young people from this overwhelmingly Catholic country to join other young people from around the world to participate in this historic spiritual event in Sydney next July.
As East Timor is a very poor country, it would have been impossible for young Timorese to attend WYD 2008 - at which Pope Benedict will be present - without outside support.
The result of this initiative has been extremely encouraging. Some parishes decided to sponsor young Timorese themselves, and as a result, some Timorese people will not only have the opportunity to attend World Youth Day, but also to spend time in typical Australian parishes.
Additionally, many readers of AD2000 spontaneously offered financial support, and as a result of their efforts almost $20,000 was received.
Further, an extremely capable committee of people associated with the Thomas More Centre in Melbourne decided to run a benefit concert, in conjunction with the Timorese Australian Community of Victoria and AD2000, to raise money for this worthy purpose. Over $20,000 was raised through this initiative alone.
Other efforts are also being undertaken in several states.
It is a reflection of the generosity and commitment of many Australians that there will be a significant East Timorese presence at World Youth Day in 2008. It will also show the Timorese, in a very practical way, that Australians want a close relationship with them, based not just on friendship, but on shared beliefs and values.
Peter Westmore is Publisher of AD2000.