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Karl Schubert looking forward to World Youth Day. Photo: Ali Blogg


Zetland is not usually the hot source of breaking news but a dedicated resident is drawing attention for his sterling efforts in helping to raise funds for young people from the Oceania region to visit Australia for World Youth Day, in between a busy job in radio and ironing shirts.

Karl Schubert, 25, operations manager at radio station 2SM, is an active parish member of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Kensington who has taken on his fundraising co-ordinator role for World Youth Day with great gusto. The parish is hoping to be able to fund the trips of around 80 pilgrims from island nations including Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

Mr Schubert explained the special connection with the Oceania region for Our Lady of the Rosary parishes that are under the care of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. “This group of missionaries first came into being in France in the mid 1800s but following persecution, had to leave. Apparently they got an atlas and spun it and that’s where it landed, the region of islands in the Pacific Ocean,” he said.   

Raising around $200,000 is the goal and having reached around $170,000 so far, Mr Schubert said support and donations across five Missionaries of Sacred Heart affiliated parishes had been outstanding. “It really is a lot when you are asking small parishes like Erskineville with only 75 to 150 parishioners to help,” he said.

World Youth Day is the largest event in Sydney since the Olympics, with more than 125,000 Catholics expected to travel from overseas to Sydney, where they will join an estimated 100,000 Australians for the week’s events. With the cost of World Youth Day finally made public on April 21, hosting the Catholic Church’s largest youth event is certainly taking a matched Olympian financial effort.

World Youth Day will cost NSW taxpayers $86 million to run thousands of extra trains and buses for pilgrims, turn schools into dormitories and provide traffic management, emergency medical units and security. The figure does not include the $42 million compensation package to secure Randwick Racecourse for the overnight vigil and Mass to be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on July 20. Add to that a $35 million pledge from the federal Government and we’re up to the grand total of over $160 million.

The Catholic Church will spend a further $115 million on the event, with pilgrims, through their registration fees expected to raise about $75 million of that amount. The remainder comes from the church and donors, as well as sponsors.

But for those working hard behind the scenes like Karl Schubert, providing pilgrims with a once in a lifetime chance to experience their faith through an international event such as World Youth Day is the focus. Mr Schubert recalls the impact of his own experience, invited as part of a delegation of young Australians to visit Rome in 2006. “Experiencing my faith in that way was so refreshing and humbling,” he said. “I was looking to take another step, with a group of Australians who all had different ideas. Standing in St Peter’s Square with tens of thousands of others was unbelievable. It really brought home the fact that I was part of many more who share faith, a love of faith, and it puts you in touch with the person you want to be,” he said.

For many of the pilgrims from the Oceania region, Mr Schubert said, the cost involved in attending World Youth Day is money they wouldn’t see in a lifetime. “Some of these people are the poorest of the poor and to see their excitement will be amazing,” he said.

Linda Daniele

* First published in the South Sydney Herald, May 2008, Page 6.