Peter Sofatzis has become a familiar face around his parish of Clemton Park-Earlwood as he earns his way to World Youth Day 2016 (WYD16) by selling newspapers. This newspaper, in fact.
In just four weeks he has earned more than $1000 towards his pilgrimage to Poland under The Catholic Weekly’s new initiative, the Youth Fundraising Project.
Peter, 19, already had his sights set on WYD16 in Poland when he attended the archdiocesan launch at St Mary’s Cathedral in May.
There CW editor Peter Rosengren and Youth Fundraising Project officer Natalie Ambrose outlined the fundraising initiative designed to bring parishes and pilgrims together.
“After doing the maths, we came up with this proposition: splitting the $2 cover price of every copy of The Catholic Weekly with parishes who want to participate in it could be a great way of raising much-needed funds for parishes keen to send young people to World Youth Day,” the editor said.
“So this is what we’ve adopted. To help parishes get their young people – your young people – to WYD Krakow, The Catholic Weekly will make an even 50-50 split on the cover price of each week’s paper available to any parish that wants to participate in this special offer.”
The program immediately appealed to the engineering student, who worked his way through high school selling Sydney newspapers.
“I knew you could make money selling papers [but] this really took off,” Peter said.
Parishioners, impressed by his dedication, have rewarded his entrepreneurial efforts.
“Our dear old parishioners have been very generous, giving me big tips as well.”
While he admits to the occasional urge to skip selling papers on a Sunday in favour of sleeping in, Peter credits two things with keeping him going.
“I need to thank my mum,” he said. “She gets me to sell them when I don’t really feel like it.”
The second is the constant reminder that every Sunday is an opportunity to get closer to his goal: the Footsteps of John Paul II pilgrimage through Rome, Krakow and Prague. It will be his first trip to Europe, and first international World Youth Day.
Peter was just 12 when it came to Sydney in 2008, but he still remembers the “feeling of joy” it brought.
While he has, from the outset, had the “full support” of parish administrator Fr Patrick Njenga, the program’s success within the parish was a pleasant surprise for the priest.
“He didn’t think we could sell as many as we are selling,” Peter told The Catholic Weekly.
More than a dozen Sydney parishes have already registered for the fundraising initiative.
To parishes or pilgrims who may be considering taking on the Youth Fundraising Project, Peter said: “It’s not as hard as you think. You just have to get out there with a smile on your face!”