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Advent is a special time of year for the Church and sets a pretty big (and important) challenge to people of faith. Advent is a time to slow down, to make time, and to prepare ourselves, in anticipation of the arrival of the Christ-child at Christmas. The challenge in this, amongst other things, is that Advent is set against a contemporary and secular culture of busyness. December is one of the busiest months on the calendar. There are presents to buy, family and friends to catch-up with, meals to be cooked, school graduation, end of year concerts, end of year work functions and projects that must be completed before the end of the calendar year.

There is an Advent reflection that I use with young people each year that poses the question: “What if something was coming that could change your life?” If something was coming that could make immeasurable difference to your life, what would you do? Would you ignore it, focus on everything else, and if a bit of this ‘something that could change your life’ happens to have a bit of an effect on you on its way past, well then that’s a bonus? Or, do you make the most of this opportunity? Do you prepare yourself, so that when this ‘something’ arrives you are ready to embrace it and make the most of it and allow it change your life?

This month we officially began pilgrim preparation for the Tasmanian Pilgrimage to World Youth Day (WYD) 2016. The first preparation sessions took place in both the north and the south of the state. It is by no accident that we begin this significant journey in Advent. There are many similarities between Advent and what we are being called to on a WYD Pilgrimage. A WYD pilgrimage is an opportunity to encounter something that could be faith-enriching and life-changing. And so the same question is posed: “How do you prepare for it?” In the same way we are called to slow down, make time and prepare for the arrival of Christ at Christmas, we are called as pilgrims to be people of Advent. To prepare our hearts and minds for pilgrimage. This is a significant point of difference between a pilgrim and a tourist.

Between now and WYD in July 2016 young Tasmanian pilgrims will take part in a program of preparation. This is an opportunity to prepare ourselves, so that we see through the eyes of a pilgrim and to prepare ourselves so that we can make the most of this experience and give ourselves the best possible chance to be open to encounter what it is that we will experience at WYD, as we set out on this ADVENT-URE of faith.

It is not too late to join the Tasmanian Pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016. If you are aged 15 – 35 as at 31st December, 2016 we would love to have you on board. For more information and to join this pilgrimage experience go to: or contact Rachelle Smith on 0400 045 368 or