Sydney, Australia: As millions of Catholic young adults flock to Sydney to celebrate the 2008 World Youth Day--a pilgrimage of worship and rite of passage for many Catholic teens and twenty-somethings--a segment of the Church argues it is being left out.
The senior citizens of the Diocese of St. Augustine, FL, announce the first biannual "World Old Day."
"I've been selling Catholic Digest subscriptions for two years to travel for this," said 95 year old Gertrude Himmelberg of Atlanta, pausing to take a deep breath of oxygen. "I can't wait."
Others argued that the time was now for a pilgrimage for the aged. "I have nothing against our youth. I was once one myself," said Roger Calhoun, 89. "But those folks have the rest of their lives to get right with God and the Church. Us? I don't want to be morbid, but seriously, it should have been yesterday the way our tickers work. It's time to make a stand."
Like this young generation, many of the Old Catholics find their inspiration in John Paul II. But the elderly love JP II for a reason most young people don't mention: he got old.
"He was the leader of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and old as the hills. Really ill at the end. Did they put him on a golf course? No, he just kept preaching the Word. That's a message for us too, and we're starting right here in St. Augustine," said Calhoun.
The theme for the celebration is "Rise Up (as you are able)". The highlight of the celebration, according to diocesan officials, will be the Final Mass, where pilgrims travel to the field and have a slumber party overnight. The Anointing of the Sick will be offered by retired priests throughout the night for those in need. At this celebration, it appears sleeping will actually be involved.
Himmelberg said that Benedict XVI was invited and welcome, but the Youth Day had been on the books for years. "That's alright, we understand. But honestly, we've got as much spunk as our young whippersnappers in Christ. I'll bet we even have a lot in common...even though he's some spring chicken compared to me," she wheezed cheerfully.
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