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Sydney (Australia) -- Tonga in WYD-08

This coming July, Sydney will receive thousands of pilgrims for World Youth Day. For the young people in Australia and nearby countries, this event will be a unique opportunity to experience the Church’s vitality. Therefore the Organizing Committee of WYD is trying to encourage many young people from the Pacific Islands to take part in the gathering.

Seeking to lend assistance, Tangara, a high school for girls in Sydney, put into operation its own Project Tonga, with the hope of being able to sponsor ten girls from the island of Tonga among the group that will stay at the school (along with pilgrims from some 20 countries). During their summer vacations, students from Tangara traveled to the island to carry out volunteer projects and to get to know girls who might want to take part in the program.

To prepare for WYD and “Project Tonga,” a one-day gathering was held in Tangara. A tapestry typical of the island decorated the end of the meeting room. Among those invited was Bishop Kevin Manning from the Parramatta Diocese, who spoke about the meaning of World Youth Day. A group of alumnae performed a traditional Tonga dance with the help of Makueta Felila, a university student from the island. They spent many hours preparing their costumes and practicing the dance steps. The gathering ended with Holy Mass celebrated by the Bishop, who expressed his pleasure at seeing the students’ joyful demeanor.

Romana, No. 45, July-December 2007, p. 324-325.