The World Youth Days have a lasting effect on the young people that participate from around the world. And the same is true for the host cities. In this special presentation for the ten year anniversary of WYD Toronto, former National Director and CEO of WYD Toronto, and current CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. visits some of the memorable sites, recounts the event and shares his personal memories of Blessed John Paul II with host Sebastian Gomes.
How John Paul II was close to me in WYD 2002
We sow seeds, often unknowingly, which yield fruit and great meaning in the future. Sow generously, God gives the growth. This is the story of a little table that brought someone close to John Paul II.
In 2002, I was 16 years old and had just finished grade 10. That summer was to be my first time attending World Youth Day. My parents raised me Catholic and every Sunday we went diligently to mass. I remember often resisting going to mass, and just felt too bored by the whole experience of being Catholic. During those years of my life I had no interest in anything religious. Going to World Youth Day that summer was going to be more a trip to be with “friends” than an anticipated spiritual experience. I look back now, particularly with our celebration of World Youth Day Toronto’s 10th anniversary and recall to myself the seeds that were planted and the story that was to unexpectedly unfold.
My father is a carpenter, he works for a company that owns many apartment buildings throughout the Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge area. The daughter of the owner of the company is married to Scott, who was responsible for sound system in Downsview Park. Leading up to the week of World Youth Day the Cardinal in charge of the main stage made it known that custom “furniture” was necessary for the Holy Father’s visit. Scott got wind of this need and contacted Frank, my father’s boss. My dad, known to be a Polish man who practiced his faith was asked: “Would you like to build a special table and podium for John Paul II?” [Read more...]
Watch the full video of John Paul II being greeted by the Youth of the World in Exhibition Place, 2002.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Dear Friends of Salt and Light,
It would take me a good week to respond to all of the mail, e-mails, calls and messages we received over the past two weeks as Salt and Light Television tried our best to bring you World Youth Day 2011. Thank you for your very kind messages of affirmation and encouragement. The line that keeps showing up in the messages is: “We felt like we were there with you!”
Our signal was carried not only across Canada, but also in the USA and Australia, and to many people who joined our audio broadcasts on the Catholic Channel of Sirius Radio in the USA as well as on Radio Maria Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world watched World Youth Day through the lenses of Salt and Light Television in Canada.
It is the day after the concluding mass of Spain’s 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid. Hundreds of thousands of “pilgrims” are still roaming the streets of Madrid with their flags and songs. Hundreds of buses are now being loaded with luggage and weary pilgrims as they return to various destinations of Europe. Madrid’s Barajas airport is probably experiencing the busiest day of its history as pilgrims fly off to the four corners of the earth. Those of us who worked on the event, and covered it through media outlets from throughout the world (6000+ journalists formally accredited to the event!) were able to sleep a bit this morning! Many of us picked up summer colds with the extreme heat outdoors and heavily air conditioned hotel rooms! [Read more...]
WYD Madrid 2011 has officially come to a close but its fruits will spread throughout the world. Our experience at Cuatro Vientos truly tested the theme: Firmes en la fe! As you may have seen, Cuatro Vientos became “un mil vientos!” Despite the scary lightning and ferocious winds, we stood (ok…crouched) in prayer. We were deeply touched when the Holy Father expressed how proud he was of the nearly 2 million pilgrims who withstood the storm. In our section we began to sing and pray together above the noise of the wind and rain. Perhaps the most touching part was when the Holy Father knelt before the Eucharist and entrusted the youth to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Despite the burning sun, the stormy blast and the damp night, pilgrims praised the Lord all night with drums and dancing. We were sad that the adoration chapels were destroyed by the storm and that we couldn’t receive the Eucharist, but our Holy Father reminded us that Christ will never abandon us. After the beautiful closing Mass, the trek to Madrid was tiring, yet pilgrims continued to spread the Gospel by their joyful songs and chants in all languages. Locals generously offered directions, rides and sprayed water off their rooftops to cool us off. “Esta es la juventud del Papa!” See you in Rio 2013! – Sr Colleen, Sr Susan and Sr Angela
- © CNS photo/Paul Haring
After thanking WYD volunteers, Benedict XVI left immediately for Madrid’s Barajas airport. In the presence of Spain’s King and Queen, he thanked the Spanish authorities and assured the country of his prayers. He specifically mentioned his concern for those suffering from the high rate of unemployment in Spain.
The Holy Father called Spain “a great nation” that is “capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul.”
The Pope also congratulated pilgrims for their “joyful, enthusiastic and intense presence.” He says they will be returning home as “missionaries of the Gospel” who will help their friends “discover that loving Christ means living life to the full”.
The papal plane is expected to land at Rome’s Ciampino Airport at 9:30pm local time.
The English translation of the Pope’s farewell address is posted below.
Today is the Pope’s last day in Madrid, but he wasn’t going to leave without expressing a personal thank you. Before heading to the airport, the Holy Father met with World Youth Day volunteers at the IFEMA Fairgrounds.
In his address to volunteers, he said that their work and prayer was like “weav[ing], stitch by stitch, a magnificent, colourful tapestry”. In particular, he praised the sacrifice of those who had to miss World Youth Day events because they needed to keep working behind the scenes.
The Pope asked them to consider extending their service to the Church through priesthood, consecrated life, or marriage. In doing so, he acknowledged that even as he was thanking the volunteers, he was asking them to do something more.
“But that is the mission of the Pope, the Successor of Peter,” he explained, to call the faithful to “respond in love to the One who for love gave himself up for us.”
The English translation of the Pope’s address continues below.
The official World Youth Day website has published a translation of the full address that Benedict XVI intended to give at the WYD Vigil. Due to heavy wind and rain, the Pope limited his spoken remarks to the greetings to the different language groups at the end of his address. The vigil resumed following a brief delay as the weather passed.
Dear Young Friends,
I greet all of you, especially the young people who have asked me their questions, and I thank them for the sincerity with which they set forth their concerns, that express the longing which all of you have to achieve something great in life, something which can bring you fulfillment and happiness.
How can a young person be true to the faith and yet continue to aspire to high ideals in today’s society? In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus gives us an answer to this urgent question: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).
Yes, dear friends, God loves us. This is the great truth of our life; it is what makes everything else meaningful. We are not the product of blind chance or absurdity; instead our life originates as part of a loving plan of God. To abide in his love, then, means living a life rooted in faith, since faith is more than the mere acceptance of certain abstract truths: it is an intimate relationship with Christ, who enables us to open our hearts to this mystery of love and to live as men and women conscious of being loved by God.
A university education is about more than attaining technical ability or satisfying the demand for labor, says Pope Benedict. The Holy Father reflected on the role of the university during a meeting with young professors at the Basilica of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. His address followed his meeting with young women religious.
“This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread,” said the pontiff. He compared this “reductionist and curtailed vision” with what he described as “the authentic idea of the University”.
“Teaching is not just about communicating content,” he explained, “but about forming young people.” For this task, he said that young people need “authentic teachers” who are open to the “fullness of truth”. At the same time, he encouraged a humble approach to truth, reminding professors that “truth itself will always lie beyond our grasp.”
“We can seek it and draw near to it,” he said, “but we cannot completely possess it; or put better, truth possesses us and inspires us.”
Published below is the full text of the Pope’s address.
My Brother Bishops,
Dear Augustinian Fathers,
I have looked forward to this meeting with you, young professors in the universities of Spain. You provide a splendid service in the spread of truth, in circumstances that are not always easy. I greet you warmly and I thank you for your kind words of welcome and for the music which has marvelously resounded in this magnificent monastery, for centuries an eloquent witness to the life of prayer and study. In this highly symbolic place, reason and faith have harmoniously blended in the austere stone to shape one of Spain’s most renowned monuments
I also greet with particular affection those of you who took part in the recent World Congress of Catholic Universities held in Avila on the theme: “The Identity and Mission of the Catholic University”.