Tuesday, October 04, 2011

World Youth Day 2015 in the homeland of the Blessed Wojtyla

Cracow will have to compete with Lithuania for the chance to host 2015’s World Youth Day event. 

Poland, however, has excellent chances of winning. Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz has already spoken to Pope Ratzinger about this, inviting him to bless Cracow’s Sanctuary of Divine Mercy.  

The Pope’s response to this was: “We’ll see.”

In 2015, which will be the tenth anniversary of Karol Wojtyla’s death, the World Youth Day could become a huge homage to its inventor. 

The idea of a World Youth Day taking place in Poland, the home country of John Paul II, who invented these international Papa-boy gatherings, is taking root. 

Cardinal Dziwisz, Karol Wojtyla’s right hand man in Poland and the Vatican, is actively involved in efforts, both in Poland and in the Curia, to promote Cracow as the location for the next World Youth Day in 2015.

Benedict XVI, who blessed his predecessor four months ago, did not refuse the request made by the Archbishop of Cracow. 

“I hope that after Rio de Janeiro (where the next WYD will be celebrated), the world youth will meet in Cracow at the Sanctuary of the Blessed John Paul II.” Cardinal Dziwisz has a solid argument with which to convince the Holy See: in four years time, in 2015, it will be the anniversary of Karol Wojtyla’s death. The official invitation was given to Benedict XVI by the Polish Episcopal Conference. According to Polish newspaper “Dziennik Polski”, “The World Youth Day would be a great opportunity to promote Cracow. The event could also bring a significant economic return for Poland, as is evident from the 160 million Euros that entered Madrid’s coffers after this year’s World Youth Day.”

According to Vatican Radio, Lithuania “will also be competing for the chance to host the event in 2015.” 

Holding the World Youth Day in Cracow would give Catholics the opportunity to pay homage to its creator. It all started on Palm Sunday on 31 March 1985. 

Thousands of youngsters from all over the world gathered in Rome to celebrate International Youth Year with John Paul II. There was an incredible influx of youngsters. Approximately 250.000 young people were crammed into St. Peter’s Square and along Via della Conciliazione. 

The youngsters’ response to the Pope’s invitation was similar in terms of enthusiasm and numbers to the meeting held two year before, during the Holy Year in 1983, on the occasion of the International Jubilee of youngsters. During the Jubilee, the Pope joined youngsters in Rome for a meeting of prayer, sharing, conversation and joy.

The success of these initiatives quickly led to the idea of establishing the World Youth Day event (WYD), during which young people from all over the world could meet with the Holy Father and renew their own faith with him. 

The event was conceived by John Paul II “as a time to pause and nourish one’s faith through a meeting with peers from other Countries and the sharing of their respective experiences.” On Palm Sunday, on 31 March 1985, the Holy Father addressed youngsters with the Dilecti Amici Apostolic Letter, in which he asked them to “always be ready to respond to whoever asks you the basis of the hope that is within you” (1Pt 3,15). 

At the end of the event, he set the date for another gathering the following year, Palm Sunday in 1986. And so it was, that on 23 March 1986, the First World Youth Day was held in dioceses across the world, united symbolically to the Diocese of Rome.

This is how the customary celebration of the World Youth Day came about: an annual celebration in the various dioceses across the world and an international celebration at a different location each time, every two years. 

Every two years, the international gathering marks a privileged moment in which “youngsters are called to build bridges of fraternity and hope between continents and to become international pilgrims,” according to the Holy Father’s intentions. 

The first international meeting (which coincided with the Second World Youth Day), took place in Buenos Aires in 1987.  Thus, “it all grew from Karol Wojtyla’s great intuition, which Joseph Ratzinger confirmed,” the Christian Family said. The Pauline weekly recalled how “during the 1983-1984 Jubilee (called Holy Year of Redemption, in memory of Jesus Christ’s death), the most important celebration dedicated to youth, was organised in Rome on 15 April 1984, which was Palm Sunday.” 

Pope John Paul II gave them a wooden cross as a gift. The following year, 1985 was proclaimed “International World Youth Day” by the UN. The Catholic Church organised a new international meeting for Palm Sunday, on 31 March, which was attended by 350.000 youngsters who gathered in St. Peter’s Square.” 

After this event, the Pope established the annual World Youth Day. Before, the international event was promoted every two years, but for a while now it has been every three years.

So far, WYD’s have been organised in: Buenos Aires (Argentina, 1987), Santiago de Compostela (Spain, 1989), Czestochowa (Poland, 1991), Denver (USA, 1993), Manila (Philippines, 1995), Paris (France, 1997), Rome (Italy, 2000), Toronto (Canada, 2002), Cologne (Germany, 2005) and Sydney (Australia, 2008).

The last world youth gathering took place again in Spain, in Madrid, between 16 and 21 August 2011. 

“The event’s main aim,” John Paul II wrote in 1996, “is to bring Jesus to the centre of every young person’s faith and life, becoming a constant reference point and the true light of every initiative and educational effort for the benefit of the new generations. This is the “chorus” of every World Youth Day.

All the World Youth Days that have taken place over the past decade represent a continuous and urgent invitation to build one’s life and faith on the rock that is Christ.” 

“In this way, youngsters are periodically called to become pilgrims through the streets of the world,” Karol Wojtyla added. “The Church sees itself in them and its mission among human beings; with them, it welcomes future challenges, in the awareness that the entire humanity needs a renewed spirit. The young people’s pilgrimage builds bridges of fraternity and hope between continents, peoples and cultures. It is a path that is constantly active. Just as life is. Just as youth is.” 

“Over the years,” the Pope pointed out, “World Youth Days have shown themselves not to be conventional rites, but providential events, occasions for youngsters to profess and proclaim the faith in Christ, with increasing joy. These meetings give youngsters the opportunity to question each other’s most intimate aspirations, experience communion with the Church, and commit to the urgent task of the new evangelisation. They have a chance to shake each other’s hand, forming a huge circle of friendship, in which different skin colours and country flags, varieties of cultures and experiences meet and merge, through faith and the Resurrected Lord.”

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