Brenden Allen

Hundreds of pilgrims progress to Lismore

MORE than 1700 Catholic 'pilgrims' from countries as diverse as Tonga, France and Korea will descend upon the Lismore Diocese in the lead-up to World Youth Day in July.

Most of them will be billeted with families across the diocese, an area that stretches from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie.

Adam Sullivan is the man who has been given the unenviable task of co-ordinating the logistical arrangements for the visit.

That means organising translators for all the languages that are spoken, as well as buses to get nearly 2500 young people up here from Sydney.

There are also about 1000 visitors from the Pacific Islands who need to be provided with suitable clothing and bedding because they don't have a need for warm clothing in places like Tonga and the Solomon Islands.

"We've been working through the schools and St Vincent de Paul has said they will provide 10 items of clothing for each person. Sleeping bags are the big thing that we still need," he said.

Mr Sullivan described a pilgrim as 'someone who is on a spiritual journey to strengthen their faith' and said that over 125,000 international pilgrims aged from 16 to 35 would be coming to Australia for the event.

"Every diocese in Australia will be hosting international visitors as part of the 'Days in the Diocese' program, which is really their opportunity to experience Australian culture in a local area," he said.

The program includes a day of social service, where all the pilgrims will do some voluntary community work. Those staying in the Ballina parish, where Mr Sullivan works, will do a walk from the Byron Bay headland and visit the Ballina Maritime Museum and Marine Centre as part of their stay.

"It's a great opportunity for the young ones to get together and mix in a multicultural environment and make friends from all over the world," he said.

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