Friday, August 19, 2005
John Paul the Great and the birthplace of the World Youth Day  

In an interesting article from Zenit, Catherine Smibert reports on the birthplace of the World Youth Day. Of course, we know that John Paul the Great had a hand in starting these festivals of faith for the youth, and in her article, Ms. Smibert gives us some insights into why he was so keen on reaching the youth and how he sought to accomplish that goal.
As his pontificate started, he was concerned about the dwindling numbers of young people active in the Church.

That's when he went on a search to give youth a place -- it could become the Vatican Youth Center -- and he managed to find one practically in front of St. Peter's Square.

It was the old Church of St. Lawrence "in Piscibus" (at the Fish Market) that had been forgotten due to the modern palazzi blocks which had been built around it...

Yet, the Pope saw potential in this lovely building that had almost been left to ruin, just as he saw potential in the youth of the day. He reconsecrated it in a special youth Mass in March 1983.

During this Mass -- photos of which still hang on the walls of the church -- John Paul II expressed his desire that the church, its basement and courtyard become "a hothouse of faith-filled evangelization … a breeding ground for mission."

During this time there was a rise in the newer communities, many of them based on the Charismatic Renewal. They were attracted to the Pope's enthusiasm and decided to respond to his invitation by pooling their resources.

Ever since then, the Centro, as its affectionately known, has offered the youth of the world a place to come and ask questions when visiting the Eternal City. They then have an opportunity to partake in daily sacraments -- reconciliation, Mass, etc. -- in a variety of languages, and a holy hour at 5 p.m. every weekday.

Over the years many youth have also taken the chance to kneel at the foot of the original cross, given to young people by the Pope in 1984, which stays here when not traveling around the world.
Read the entire article.

This is a beautiful recounting of the way in which the Holy Father expressed his love for people. He wanted the youth to be who Christ had called them to be. He saw it within them because God had put it there, and he answered the call to help the youth let God change them by providing a means for the transformation to take place. Just another reason that he is indeed John Paul the Great.

Photo by mcsixth

Posted by David at 1:20 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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