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.
Watch the entire video of John Paul II’s arrival into Toronto on July 24, 2002.
With just over a year before World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro it’s almost time to register for the event.
The Rio organization advised that registration will open in July 2012. Groups of up to 50 people can register through the on-line registration portal that is expected to be up and running. Groups with more than 50 people will have to split themselves into groups of 50 for registration purposes.
As always, your registration with WYD includes accommodation and meals. WYD host cities always provide two different types of accommodation options: host families and group housing venues. Group accommodation venues are usually parishes or schools that convert their public spaces into dormitory style accommodation.
The WYD Rio Accommodation Department has already launched a campaign to get host families on board. Host families offer pilgrims a safe haven, a family home in which to spend the week of WYD, a chance to get to know the local culture and the local church, and learn some Brazilian Portuguese.
If you can already read Brazilian Portuguese, visit the WYD Rio website for more information on registration and housing.
Were you in Madrid this summer for World Youth Day? Were you, like so many others, in the middle of an immense sea of people unable to get the view you wanted? WYD Madrid just uploaded this video to their still-active YouTube page, a one hour look back at whole week of WYD. Titled “The Story of an Unforgettable Week”, the video includes footage from TeleMadrid and 13TV, the official broadcasters of World Youth Day Madrid. You’ll enjoy the excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s homilies.
The excitement over WYDRio is growing. The national committee for WYD 2013 announced the logo will be revealed to the world on February 1. Recently the rio2013 website was completely redesigned in preparation for the launch.
The announcement was made January 13 during a prayer vigil for the WYD. The vigil included the ‘Trezena de São Sebastião” – a traditional devotional prayer in preparation for the feast of the patron Saint of Rio de Janeiro, Saint Sebastian. The theme of the vigil was Saint Sebasitan: young flower of Jesus Christ. The Archbishop of Rio João Orani Tempesta was there to lead participants in prayer.
This is one more step in the direction of WYD Rio which will take place between July 23 and 28 in the world famous Brazilian city.
This article was contributed by new S+L team member Carlos Ferreira, a veteran staff member of WYD Madrid.
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.
Dear Young People,
In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day. Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15). He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father. For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received. Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better. They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns. But who is he really? How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?
The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ. The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion. When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth.
Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation. So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard. Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected.
And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus. Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.
Dear young people, today Christ is asking you the same question which he asked the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own. Say to him: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.
Jesus’ responds to Peter’s confession by speaking of the Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”. What do these words mean? Jesus builds the Church on the rock of the faith of Peter, who confesses that Christ is God.
The Church, then, is not simply a human institution, like any other. Rather, she is closely joined to God. Christ himself speaks of her as “his” Church. Christ cannot be separated from the Church any more than the head can be separated from the body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). The Church does not draw her life from herself, but from the Lord.
Dear young friends, as the Successor of Peter, let me urge you to strengthen this faith which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Make Christ, the Son of God, the centre of your life. But let me also remind you that following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so “on his own”, or to approach the life of faith with kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.
Having faith means drawing support from the faith of your brothers and sisters, even as your own faith serves as a support for the faith of others. I ask you, dear friends, to love the Church which brought you to birth in the faith, which helped you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and which led you to discover the beauty of his love. Growing in friendship with Christ necessarily means recognizing the importance of joyful participation in the life of your parishes, communities and movements, as well as the celebration of Sunday Mass, frequent reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the cultivation of personal prayer and meditation on God’s word.
Friendship with Jesus will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God. I think that the presence here of so many young people, coming from all over the world, is a wonderful proof of the fruitfulness of Christ’s command to the Church: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). You too have been given the extraordinary task of being disciples and missionaries of Christ in other lands and countries filled with young people who are looking for something greater and, because their heart tells them that more authentic values do exist, they do not let themselves be seduced by the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God.
Dear young people, I pray for you with heartfelt affection. I commend all of you to the Virgin Mary and I ask her to accompany you always by her maternal intercession and to teach you how to remain faithful to God’s word. I ask you to pray for the Pope, so that, as the Successor of Peter, he may always confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. May all of us in the Church, pastors and faithful alike, draw closer to the Lord each day. May we grow in holiness of life and be effective witnesses to the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, the Saviour of all mankind and the living source of our hope. Amen.
- Photo Credit © M.Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk