Last Sunday, 17th July, about 289 youths, 10 Clergy and 3 Religious representatives from the Church in Malaysia left for Krakow, Poland for the 31st World Youth Day.
The Holy Father began this journey with the spirit of Beatitudes since 2014. He encourages the young people throughout the world to reread and mediate on the Beatitudes and use them as guides for their daily life. The theme for 2014 was on the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). The theme for 2015 was: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). The theme for World Youth Day 2016 is “Blessed are the Merciful, for they will receive mercy,” (Mt 5:7). This year the Holy Father focuses on mercy, the most prominent topic of the Universal Church. He stresses on our young people to be instruments of mercy for others. They should have merciful hearts by giving their time and efforts in their words and capacity to listen to those most in need.
The WYD 2016 will start from 25th July to 1st August (Monday to Sunday). The youth will be staying in the foster homes in Krakow or other parts of the cities. During this time they will meet for their catechetical sessions in various parishes or formation centers together with Bishops and leaders of the Church. There will be other programmes such as shows, music, group discussions, prayers, vigils, reconciliation and celebration of Mass. Pope Francis will travel to Krakow on July 27 (Wednesday), meeting that day with political leaders and with the country’s bishops. On July 28, he will travel to Czestochowa, to the beloved shrine of the Black Madonna. On Friday he will visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. On Saturday, July 31, he will travel to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow. That evening he will join the WYD participants in a prayer vigil. He will celebrate the closing Mass for WYD on Sunday.
The World Youth Day (WYD) is an event for our Catholic youth throughout the world, which is celebrated on Palm Sunday every year at the diocese level. Once in every two or three years, it will be celebrated on a global level. St John Paul II initiated this WYD celebration in 1984. Ever since then, the WYD invites thousands and thousands and even millions of young people throughout the world to meet at one location. This meeting witnesses the living Church and brings liveliness and renewal in our Catholic Church. The main reason for the WYD is for the young people to meet the Holy Father, leaders of the Church and other youths from all over the world. It is also an opportunity to share their faith and the message of Christ to the world.
I had a very enriching experience of the WYD in 1995 in Manila, before joining the Major Seminary in Penang. It was my first experience abroad. I had a close look at St. Pope John Paul II while he was passing by with his bulletproof mobile. My 10 day-experience meeting up with youths throughout the world in Manila had given me a sense of vocation to the priesthood and uplifted my faith.
We pray for the success of the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.
Fr. George Packiasamy.