Tongans to visit Ballina in World Youth Day lead-up

Ballina will get a taste of World Youth Day when Fr Newcastle Niukapu and his team of World Youth Day (WYD) leaders from the pacific nation of Tonga bring between 770 and 800 Tongan youth to the Diocese of Lismore.

Fr Newcastle and Tongan youth leader Lutoviko Manu recently traveled from Tonga to meet with local WYD co-ordinators including Diocesan WYD Executive Officer Adam Sullivan and WYD Coordinator from Port Macquarie, Peter O’Driscoll.

“We now have our flights booked from Tonga and we have 15 buses organised to transport our youth up to parishes from Port Macquarie to Ballina,” said Fr Newcastle.

“This event is going to be an amazing experience for our youth. We are very appreciative of the generosity and hospitality of the Diocese of Lismore in hosting our group during Days in the Diocese.”

Days in the Diocese was initiated by the late Pope John Paul II as a cultural opportunity for international pilgrims traveling to WYD to receive a real experience of life in dioceses within the hosting country prior to all international and local youth heading to the host city for World Youth Day.

“All parishes across our diocese, from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie, are now registering families and parishioners to host the youth of the world from the 10th to the 14th of July. The expectation for hosting is quite simple, offer a bed or a place to sleep, provide some meals and most importantly, a willingness to offer a genuine Aussie welcome. We would really like everyone to have the opportunity to be part of Days in the Diocese,” said Adam Sullivan.

“Days in the Diocese will be a significant cultural experience in our communities. We currently have 24 different cultural groups coming into our diocese and we expect this number to increase in the coming months.”

Sue Felsch, who is co-ordinating the Days in the Diocese program for the St Francis Xavier Parish of Ballina, which includes the communities of Lennox Head and Wardell, is very excited about events being planned for Days in the Diocese.

“We have international youth groups coming from Brazil, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Austria, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Lebanon. Many of these youth are travelling for the first time and for some, arriving in Australia will be big culture shock. We hope to make their stay as welcoming and memorable as possible,” said Sue.

If you would like to get involved in World Youth Day events in your local area, or join a parish pilgrimage youth group to travel to World Youth Day in Sydney from the 15th to 20th of July, then contact your local Catholic parish office or visit

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