Lismore Diocese World Youth Day pilgrims clockwise from bottom: Georgina McKenzie, Madeline Ilic and Megan McKee (all 17 yrs) taking delivery of 800 sleeping bags in Ballina.
Lismore Diocese World Youth Day pilgrims clockwise from bottom: Georgina McKenzie, Madeline Ilic and Megan McKee (all 17 yrs) taking delivery of 800 sleeping bags in Ballina. The Northern Star

Warmer winter nights in the bag

A NORTH Coast winter is a long way from the Solomon Islands, but 410 pilgrims from the tiny islands will be here soon in the lead-up to World Youth Day.

There will also be 770 young Tongans, about 100 people from Papua New Guinea and representatives from Austria, Korea and the USA taking part in a cultural exchange program called 'The Days of the Diocese'.

Keeping them all warm at night is the big challenge for Adam Sullivan, Lismore Diocese's executive officer of World Youth Day.

"We have purchased about 800 sleeping bags which is about 60 per cent of what we need, and we're asking the community to help by donating any second-hand sleeping bags they no longer need," he said.

"Many of the pilgrims from the Pacific Rim countries just don't have access to sleeping bags and warm clothes.

During the Days of the Diocese they will be OK because they are being billeted and will be sleeping in beds, but there is one night at Randwick where we are sleeping under the stars where we will need them."

Mr Sullivan said all 225,000 participants would get a thermal blanket as part of their World Youth Day pack, but were being told to prepare for rain, just in case.

"There's no tents, just plastic sheets. We're going to be roughing it, but that's what a pilgrimage is all about."

Mr Sullivan said he was particularly looking forward to the Days of the Diocese program.

"Culturally, for our young ones from the area to experience people from these other countries will be a very positive experience. A lot of them are coming from small isolated islands and small villages that don't have hot water and beds. So it will be a big culture shock."

In trying to organise accommodation and transport for the 1800 international pilgrims coming to the Lismore Diocese, Mr Sullivan said he has been hassling people for details about who is coming.

"I found out the other week group leaders are paddling from island-to-island to get the details, so I thought I better back off a bit."


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