MULGRAVE will be home to about 800 young pilgrims for World Youth Day lead-up events this week.

The pilgrims, from interstate and more than 30 countries such as Zimbabwe, Paraguay, French Guiana, and Laos, have been billeted by 150 Mulgrave families for the International Oblate Youth Encounter.

The events bring together young people connected to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Catholic order that works in more than 60 countries.

Highlights include an opening ceremony at Mazenod College on Wednesday and an inter-faith peace ceremony, Peace by Piece, featuring 2007 Australian Idol Natalie Gauci at Federation Square on Thursday.

On Friday, Born For This, a musical production based on the Stations of the Cross, will be performed at St Mary’s Seminary, Jacksons Road, at 10 am.

Following that there is a walk to Mazenod College by pilgrims carrying the wooden cross used in the musical.

On Sunday, most of the pilgrims leave for World Youth Day in Sydney in a convoy of 14 coaches.

The head of the organizing committee, Christian Fini, said the Mulgrave-based event was a celebration of identity, faith, and young people.

He praised the efforts of more than 80 young people nationwide, who had spent two years organizing the event.

“What’s exciting is we’ve got young people dedicating themselves to this. Lately, we’ve had 10 volunteers working seven days a week in our offices,” Mr. Fini said.

“It shows what young people can do when given the opportunity.”