THEME: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19)
The Holy Father Francis brought the youth to «his» continent. They came to a country full of contrasts. A country where a boisterous carnival takes place in the districts of misery, and citizens who constitute the biggest Catholic nation in the world fight every day against a law which is hostile to the protection of life. Realizing the missionary theme of the meeting, the “Days in the Dioceses” were called “Missionary Week” . In his teachings, the Pope reminded the young that they cannot become missionaries without first becoming followers of Christ. With the history of this meeting went down the testimonies of generous acceptance of the pilgrims by poor favela residents; as well as the view of Copacabana beach which was filled with young people up to the edge of the ocean. It is on this beach where Francis encouraged the young: «Go, without fear, to serve» – and invited them to the next meeting in Krakow.
HYMN: Esperança do Amanhecer
and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)»World Youth Day on antipodes» was a double challenge for the organizers. Not only because of the great distance the pilgrims had to go, but also because it took place in a country where only 26% of the population identify as Catholics. Nearly a quarter of them are Aborigines – native inhabitants of Australia, living on the fringe of Australian society. During the celebration of WYD their presence has been repeatedly underlined. They welcomed both pilgrims and the Holy Father in the traditional processions on the water. The Pope also mentioned them in his speeches. Although WYD in Sydney turned out to be one of the smallest in the history of the Days, it resulted in a great revival for the local church. It realized the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to the young, to become the «prophets of a new era» and to also aspire to holiness: «Through the Spirit’s action, may the young people gathered here for World Youth Day have the courage to become saints! This is what the world needs more than anything else.”HYMN: Receive the Power
You are the light of the world (Mt 5:13-14)The meeting in Canada was held in the shadow of the attacks on the World Trade Center, located only 550 km away in New York. Half a year after the event, young people brought to the place of the tragedy the WYD cross, which for the first time went across all Canadian dioceses, preparing the country for the Day. There were innovations during the very days too: for the first time the name «Youth Festival» had been used. And for pilgrims and residents of Toronto an unforgettable experience was also the mystery of the Way of the Cross, organized in the streets of one of the business districts. The Holy Father not only explained to the pilgrims the depth of the Evangelical blessings, but also, at the end of the meeting, passed on the task: „You are our hope, the young are our hope. Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”HYMN: Light of the World
and have it more abundantly (Jn 10:10)During a time when many young people around the world dreamed about the “American dream” and prosperous life, the Pope invited them to a town in the center of the United States. For the young people from politically unstable Europe, this seemed an «ideal State». There, John Paul II reminded the pilgrims that the source of a happy life is fidelity to Jesus, rather than material possessions. He pointed out the current problems of the world, which in previous years had experienced profound political and social changes. The result of this meeting was, among other things, a beginning of the Movement of Pure Hearts, proclaiming that «True Love Waits», and including the Way of the Cross in the WYD scheme. The pilgrims returned to their home countries inspired by the words of the Pope: “Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops.”HYMN: One Body
in the love God has for us (1Jn 4:16)The second World Youth Day was also the first held outside Italy and outside Europe. Pope John Paul II chose Argentina – struggling with the consequences of the bloody rule of the military junta and liberation theology, and many elements of this meeting were symbolic explanations of the essence of the World Youth Day. First of all was the time. Although the meeting in Buenos Aires was the last to be held on Palm Sunday, it was a reminder that the papal plan is to invite young people to explore the Mystery of Redemption. Secondly, the definition of youth: explaining the meeting motto the Pope said: «In those words resonates poignant testimony of what we refer as to Christian youth of spirit, which is a constant preserving fidelity to God’s love. Union with God allows us every day to grow in this youth.» Thirdly was the form. The meeting in Buenos Aires in its entirety was based on a dialog between the Pope and the young.HYMN: Un nuevo sol
THEME: May you give an account of the hope that is within you
(1 Pt 3:15, Pope John Paul II’s wishes for the young people for the International Youth Year)
Although the first meeting had a diocesan dimension, it was it was the first «numbered» World Youth Day. In his homily, John Paul II explained to young what according to his plan the World Youth Day should be, both in diocesan and international dimension. He said: «Today you are here again, dear friends, to begin in Rome, in St. Peter’s Square, the tradition of World Youth Day, the celebration to which the entire Church is invited. (…) World Youth Day means just this, going to encounter God, who entered into the history of man by means of the Pasqual Mystery of Jesus Christ. He entered in a way that cannot be undone. And he desires to meet you above all.
The establishment of the World Youth Day was another example of John Paul II’s concern for young people, expressed from the first moments of his pontificate. As soon as during the inauguration of his pontificate, he said to the young: «You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope. 13 March 1983 he opened the youth Center of San Lorenzo at the Vatican, and when two weeks later he inaugurated the Extraordinary Holy Year of Jubilee of Redemption, he accepted from the young from the center the wooden cross, which has become a symbol of the Holy Year. At the end of the celebrations of Palm Sunday, April 22, 1984, he asked the youth to carry this cross all over the world as a sign of redemption and the testimony of their faith. The young accepted this request. Also, they responded to the invitation of the Pope, who called them to Rome in 1985 to a meeting on the occasion of the International Year of Youth, established by the United Nations. Among other factors, these events inspired the Holy Father to engage in regular meetings with the young. He explained their importance to employees of the Roman Curia during the Christmas Eve: “All young people must feel the care that the Church has for them. Therefore, the whole Church, in union with the successor of Peter, must be more and more engaged at a global level in caring for youth, in responding to their anxieties and concerns and to their receptiveness and hopes. We must try to match their expectations, and we must communicate the certainty that is Christ, the Truth that is Christ, and the love that is Christ. And in this privileged concern, which the Church directs toward them, young people need to find a proof that they matter very much, because they are very much worth. Their life is valuable to the Church.»