Check out our new WYD blog

If you haven’t noticed yet, make sure you check out our new blog by people attending World Youth Day next week. We’ve signed up several people going to WYD in Australia to tell you what World Youth Day feels like. And we plan to supplement those post with occasional items from Catholic News Service staff members who will be either on the scene in Sydney or handling stories and photos back in Washington.

Just reading today’s three posts (here, here, and here) will show you the excitement that these young people are feeling. Make sure you check in often (there’s an RSS feed) over the next two weeks.

Communion in outer space?

Terry Dickson of the Gulf Pine Catholic in the Biloxi Diocese does a fascinating Q & A in the June 13 edition with Robert D. Cabana, director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Cabana was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame this spring. In the piece he describes losing friends in the Challenger and Columbia tragedies, his thoughts on the possibility of intelligent life on other planets and a worship service, with Communion, in a spaceship. Cabana and his wife, Joan, are parishioners at Out Lady of the Gulf Parish in Bay St. Louis, Miss. 

Former astronaut says outer space experiences helped strengthen his faith. (Click page 26, 27 and 28 on the left side to view the story)

Catholic youths combating poverty

The theme of World Peace Day 2009 is going to be ‘combating poverty,’ as directed by Pope Benedict XVI. It seems like there is no end to potential service outlets for Catholics, especially Catholic youths.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Catholic weekly paper, The Tidings, published this story about Catholic Relief Services, one of the most versatile outlets for service projects.

Many Catholic teens and young adults spend all or some of their summer on service trips or participating in service projects. One such summer camp, the Heart Work Camp, is highlighted in the Mississippi Catholic, the newspaper for the Diocese of Jackson, here.  

Another form of service is documented in an article in The Record, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., where recent graduates of local high schools use the performing arts in order to serve students aided by the Community Catholic Center. The Community Catholic Center helps underprivileged students attend Catholic schools.

Another example of service is a program organized by two sisters in Seattle to send books to schools in Alaska. They are featured in an article in The Catholic Northwest Progress on the Archdiocese of Seattle’s Web site. 

Dioceses prepare for World Youth Day

The number of stories related to the upcoming World Youth Day in Sydney has been rapidly increasing at CNS.

While much attention has been given to how the U.S. is preparing for the pilgrimage as a country, each of the dioceses must prepare its own group.

The Catholic Sun in Phoenix has run two stories so far and staff writer Ambria Hammel, who will be traveling to Australia, has started a blog about her experiences. One story looks at the preparations that are necessary to attend. The other focuses on cultural exchanges that will take place at World Youth Day, a piece similar to a blog post Nancy Wiechec wrote last month.

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis sat down with The Catholic Spirit for a little Q & A about why he will be attending World Youth Day and the importance of the event.

In Washington, the Catholic Standard covered a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop Donald Wuerl for the pilgrims who will be traveling from the archdiocese.

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh recently held a formal sendoff for World Youth Day travelers at the St. Paul Cathedral. Pittsburgh Catholic wrote this piece outlining the itinerary of the diocesan group that will include Bishop Zubik.