|Sally and Paul d’Assumpcao receiving the Pope’s blessing while on their honeymoon in Rome.|
July 4, 2008. Adelaide, Australia. Sally d’Assumpcao, a Regnum Christi
member from Adelaide, Australia, has been at the forefront of
the work to prepare the way for World Youth Day
2008. Her work so far has led to numerous promotional
initiatives, including a campaign that raised $30,000 to enable poor
pilgrims from Vietnam, Vanuatu, and Balgo to travel to the
Where It Began
World Youth Days are very much a
part of Sally d’Assumpcao’s personal journey of faith. She first
became a believer at a World Youth Day in Rome,
2000, where she also met her husband Paul. At the
time, she was an agnostic and he was a pilgrim,
but the spark of faith—and of love—met an open heart.
After seven months of prayer and study in Medjugorje, she
was received into the Catholic Church on the feast of
Christ the King, in the year 2001, by Monsignor Robert
Aitken in Adelaide, Australia.
Two years later, on January 26,
2003, Sally and her husband Paul were incorporated into the
Regnum Christi Movement by Fr Matthew Joseph Brackett, LC, while
on their honeymoon in Rome.
Serving the Archdiocese
then, Sally has been living out her apostolic vocation with
energy and initiative. In her current roles as the World
Youth Day marketing leader for the Adelaide archdiocese and delegate
for the Adelaide Cathedral parish, she has been busily preparing
for the massive World Youth Day event to be held
in Sydney, Australia this coming July 15-20.
|The Adelaide pilgrim group with Bishop Greg O´Kelly at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide.|
One of her
first projects as marketing leader was to start up a
monthly youth group for 18 to 35-year-olds called “Unite Adelaide,”
to help gather and prepare youth for the pilgrimage. The
web site, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an archdiocesan source of information,
formation, and motivation for all of the youth, including those
who will be following the events from home.
Sally has also
spoken at about 30 Masses to get people excited and
enthused about World Youth Day, promote the fundraising campaign, and
encourage families to host pilgrims during Adelaide’s “Days in the
“The Mass talks gave me a great opportunity to
meet many of Adelaide´s wonderful and holy priests who are
so hidden,” she said. “I had the opportunity to hear
their homilies several times as I followed them to all of
their weekend Masses. It was a most blessed insight into
the lives of priests, and now I can pray for them
|A promotional article on Catherine Burke, whose blogspot is http://goanextramile.blogspot.com.|
with greater heartfelt fervor.”
For additional promotion and fundraising, she and her
organizing committee also produced a Rosary CD led by Archbishop
Philip Wilson and the vocations director, Fr Dean Marin. At
the same time, as the delegate for the Adelaide Cathedral,
she has been working with Fr Marin to organize the
80-strong pilgrim group from the parish.
Sometimes promotional campaigns take
on unexpected forms. When an Adelaide student named Catherine Burke
decided to raise World Youth Day awareness by undertaking a
19-day bicycle pilgrimage from Adelaide to Sydney, Sally supported her
with planning and promotion as well.
The Vibrant Faith of Vietnamese
The idea of reaching out to poorer communities came up
as part of the teamwork in preparation for World Youth
Day. Through the Archdiocesan Catholic Education Office, Sally devised a
project that would provide funds for these pilgrims to attend
World Youth Day. Her intention was to facilitate a united
archdiocesan effort to reach out to sister countries that were
materially poor but spiritually rich.
It turned out that a Catholic
community in Vietnam was praying for financial support for their
20 pilgrims; in their eagerness to attend the event, they
had taken out a loan and were in serious debt.
|Vietnamese youth getting ready for World Youth Day.|
In 9 weeks, Sally and her committee fundraised $29,000 and
gave it to the Vietnamese community.
As part of her work
to organize the group from Vietnam, Sally visited a Vietnamese
parish in Adelaide to see if they could host the
pilgrims. She was invited to their Sunday Mass and was
encouraged the meet the youth group. To her surprise, she
discovered a vibrant parish of over 1,000 people only 10
minutes from her home.
“We couldn’t believe the numbers
at Sunday Mass,” she said. “The Mass was in Vietnamese
so we didn’t understand what was being said until the
whole church turned around to us and clapped.”
she and her team met the youth group. There were
no less than 200 youth ranging in age from 5
to 18, with the 18-year-olds acting as the youth leaders.
After Sally addressed the youth group with her promotional talk,
the young people split up by age groups and went
to receive catechesis from their youth leaders.
“It was so
inspirational,” Sally observed. “It was then that I realized this
wasn’t my project, but God’s.”
No Pilgrim Left Behind
At the same
time, further phone conversations led to a new project: the
|The island of Vanatu, located east of Australia.|
Darwin diocese from the Tiwi Islands had another pilgrim group
in need of funds. The Tiwi Islands are two tiny
islands about 50 miles offshore from the northern Australian city
of Darwin. The 2,000 inhabitants are 94% indigenous.
After learning about
the needs of the Tiwi pilgrims, Sally decided to do
a separate fundraiser for them. Some members of the committee
were acquainted with a few talented young musicians, so they
had the idea of doing a musical soiree as a
fundraiser. The effort was successful.
However, it turned out that the
Tiwi pilgrims no longer needed the money, so they earmarked
the $4,000 for 3 pilgrims from Vanuatu, an island nation
about 1,090 miles east of northern Australia.
had also fundraised more than was needed for the Vietnamese
group, so another leftover $400 was sent to a pilgrim
from Balgo, a tiny aboriginal community of about 400 people,
located between two deserts in Western Australia.
Youth Day Will Burn Up Our Apathy”
|Balgo, in the deserts of Western Australia.|
Sally’s perspective on the
potential impact of World Youth Day on Australia is a
hopeful one. Much of the important work in people’s hearts,
she says, has been done through the preparations themselves.
the path has been made for a great renewal of
faith, devotion, and service for the Lord. World Youth Day
is a real ‘John the Baptist’ for the country. The
Journey of the Cross and Icon, holy relics, and youth
gatherings have fertilised the soil for the Word of God
through the Holy Father,” she said.
“So many youth leaders have
been formed in their apostolates, teachers’ hearts have been set
aflame for the faith, and people in the public eye
have been able to answer our Lord when He asks
‘Who do you say I am?’”
“WYD08, above all else, will
|The WYD preparations are already a call to conversion.|
burn up our apathy, absolve us from our sin, and
set a new course for the future of the Church
in Australia. We will witness the faith of the people
in Oceania and draw from them an example of how
to live the Gospels and how to ‘be not afraid’
to express our love and devotion to Christ,” she said.
What the Youth Really Want
The theme of the upcoming World
Youth Day is taken from the Book of Acts: “You
will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon
you; and you will be my witnesses”—an apostolic message of
hope and power in the Spirit.
When asked what she thought
Pope Benedict’s message to the youth would be, Sally said
she was anticipating a powerful call to live in the
truth without fear, and to witness to Christ with all
of the passion of their young hearts.
“I still love John-Paul
II´s message to the world ‘Be not afraid.’ I think
Pope Benedict XVI can pick up where JPII left off, whilst
also drawing us deeper into the same mysteries,” she said.
youth want truth and they want to fathom the depths.
They don´t want to hear ‘God loves you,’ without penetrating his
|Carrying the World Youth Day cross.|
love, seeing that loving face and being embraced by it. They want
to be swept up by it and moved to a
new place that demands change, conversion, and the response of a missionary.”
youth of today have so much energy and passion and a desire
to give. They also sense that if they are not guided
and formed, that energy is a great power that can
be used against their own soul and the souls of
others. This fear often stops young people from acting because
they sense a great power in them. It seems safer to
do nothing than to trust in their goodness and yet
still make a mistake. With just a little guidance, formation,
and support, young people can learn to trust God and
themselves, and do some wonderful work for the Church.”
Spirit can speak loudly through the youth. Whenever I talk
with youth leaders I hear the same voice that is
thirsting for answers and for their solutions to be heard.
John Paul II´s ´Theology of the Body´ is the new
lens for understanding the Catechism and the way to explain
the Church´s teachings to others,” she said.
“The youth in Adelaide
are ready to launch out into the deep and gather
|A mini-youth day at the d’Assumpcao family home.|
many souls for Christ. They also want to know about
and practise traditional devotions like the Brown Scapular of Mount
Carmel, and to know more about the traditional religious orders
like the Capuchins. There seems to be a movement towards
the traditional, as though a greater and purer sense of
truth can be found through the old practices of the
“The ‘renewal’ is really a purification and empowering of truth.
The youth want to hear that what is in their
heart is good and true and that what the world
teaches is a lie. They want to know that they
can draw from the font of life and mercy through
the sacraments and thus find deeper purity, humility, and sanctification,”
For more information about the World Youth Day preparations
in Adelaide, Australia, visit the web site at email@example.com.
For ongoing coverage of the World Youth Day events,