05 April 2017
Young people will be convinced when we make the testimony we give them coincide with the Gospel’s message
Even within the enclosed space of the convention center, where people—especially young people—from over one hundred countries around the world have gathered, there has been a surprise: delegates from the Bishops' Conference of North Africa to that of Zimbabwe, from 104 countries and 44 movements, groups and international associations of young Catholics have come to this event sponsored by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in Rome these days, to discuss the path from the World Youth Day in Krakow to the 2019 WYD in Panama, that will be marked by the Synod dedicated to the young people.
“On behalf of Pope Francis, I welcome you all to this meeting, which is of great importance for the life of the Church ... this is the first time that so many participants have come to this kind of gathering.” With these words, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Dicastery’s Prefect, greeted the 300 delegates, youth ministry agents, and young people gathered to share their collective wisdom and vast experience of working with young people accumulated in the thirty years of the World Youth Days, and put it at the service of the next Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated precisely to the young people.
This first day was consecrated to analyzing the 2016 WYD held in Krakow: this work is especially useful to Panamanians and to those, who will have the courage to organize the World Youth Days in the future, but it also provides an opportunity to consider the pastoral fruits of the event in Poland and throughout the world. The Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, opened the working session by focusing the attention on four points: 1) the WYD as an experience of the Church’s catholicity; 2) the WYD as an experience of Community and hope for a new world; 3) the WYD as an experience of a Church which “goes forth;” 4) the WYD as an experience of the commitment to a new evangelization.
Fr. Grzegorz Suchodolski, general secretary of the WYD Committee for 2016, and Fr. Emil Parfiniuk, head of the youth ministry in Poland, both emphasized in their speeches the importance of the long preparatory path and the personal involvement of young people, highlighting the collaboration of all 44 dioceses in helping the young Poles to rediscover their country’s spiritual wealth and, in the encounter with people from all over the world, the unity of faith in Christ, which were the keys to the success of the World Youth Day in Krakow.
The warm reception of the pilgrims, especially during the days they spent in the Polish dioceses, was underscored in most of the interventions by the delegates as one of the most pleasantly surprising aspects of this WYD. Great interest was aroused by the testimony of the delegate from Iraq—one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, severely persecuted today, but eager to be in Krakow because “being among young people from around the world is the best way to not feel abandoned to an incomprehensible destiny.” In many interventions, delegates from around the world—from South Korea to the small community in Albania, and from Uganda to the Dominican Republic—described their experience, the preparation process, and how the participation in the WYD has benefited their countries.
Msgr. Damian Muskus, Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, introduced the afternoon work, dedicated to the technical aspects and logistics, without forgetting that, as Pope Francis said to the volunteers at the meeting on the last day, “this day took shape as a result of much work but also many prayers.”
The day ended with Holy Mass, presided by Cardinal Farrell who, in his homily, emphasized that it is not enough to call ourselves Christians: the label is not enough, facts are needed and testimony. Young people will be convinced when we make the testimony we give them coincide with the Gospel’s message.