A BIG MEETING OF THE CHURCH ON THE LAND OF THE CROSS OF THE SOUTH
On 23-28 July 2013, there will be the World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Agnieszka Dziarmaga talks with Fr. Kazimierz Długosz, a monk of Christ's Order, a provincial of the South-American province of Christ's Society in Brazil
AGNIESZKA DZIARMAGA: - There is little time till the beginning of the World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian Catholic Church and the state authorities treat preparations for this event very seriously. It is also an occasion for promoting Brazil.
Fr. KAZIMIERZ DŁUGOSZ TChr: - When last year we paid a visit in the curia of the diocese of Rio de Janeiro and an organizational office of the World Youth's Days with bishop Henryk Tomasik, and his companion Fr. Grzegorz Suchodolski, we could look at the big organizational effort. A company was even employed, which has a lot of experience in organizing such meetings and concerts, an official internet website appeared, and on Facebook new pieces of information appeared every day and encouragement for participating in this undoubtedly biggest meeting of the Church, which will be held on the Land of the Cross of the South.
But not only the Brazilian Church is glad of this meeting. Also the state authorities participate in these preparations, promising many attractions and great welcoming of every pilgrim. Surely, it is a good occasion for promoting the city, which in regard to many districts of poverty here and high criminality, has not a good opinion in the world. It was said by Orani Joao Tempesta, archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, who emphasized that the city is going to give the all means of transport to disposal of young people, help in organizing exhibitions, meetings and evangelical concerts. Police protection is also going to be strengthened, which has already proved that it can get mobilized, when the prestige of the city requires it. We cannot forget that the World Youth's Days start the whole series of events important for Brazil. After all, there will be World Football Championship and Olympic games here soon.
- And how are parishes and communities getting prepared for this event?
- The Brazilian Church is characterized by great engagement of laymen, and people from here are very hospitable by nature, which surely helps organizing the meeting. Hectic preparations have been taking place in parishes for many months. They began with the visitation of the Cross of the World Youth's Days and the Icon of Our Lady, which were making pilgrimages in the whole country, visiting all dioceses. Symbols of the World Youth's Days reached to the Indians, inhabiting hardly accessible areas of this enormous country, and to the streets of big lively cities. It happens that meetings in this spirit are completely exceptional, that they change attitudes or even life.
When in the recent time I have visited a centre run by a German Franciscan Father Hans, I met a young man there, who told me that it was just the Cross contributed to making a decision about his breaking with his addiction. He had lived in the so-called Carcoladnia in Sao Paulo for 10 years. It is a region situated in the city centre, known for trade and taking drugs. His life was passing with minor robberies in order to get money for purchase of bigger doses of drugs. One day he noticed a big group of people carrying the Cross and he joined them thinking that it would be easier for him to rob another person. It was a procession with the Cross of the World Youth's Days. When the procession stopped, its participants were coming up to touch the Cross and make a vow according to the Brazilian customs. He also came up. After a while, he was overwhelmed by some awesome warmth, and one person asked whether he wanted to break with sins? At once he said 'yes' and, as a result, he was in the centre of Father Hans, called Fazenda da Esperanca here. For many young people it is the only hope for renewal of life. When he was telling me his story, he often repeated: "Priest, look at me, please, and see how much I have been changed, how beautiful I am, and I was a skeleton a few months ago'. During the visitation of the symbols of the World Youth's Days, many Brazilians started believing in Christ and accepted His Mother. Here the sentence became popular: 'Everything with Christ, nothing without Mary'.
Organizers of the World Youth's Days expect even a few million participants. Unfortunately, for many people, a financial barrier is a big problem. In order to get to Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba or another city, it is necessary to travel thousands of kilometers. Brazil is not a cheap country and many people are scared of the prices of tickets and expenditures in general. In order to prevent it, in parishes festivals and lotteries are organized whose aim is to gain necessary funds. For we all are aware of the significance of the World Youth's Days, the fact that such meetings lead to deep experiences, making religious life dynamic.
- Will the World Youth's Days in Rio de Janeiro be preceded by a Missionary Week with, among the others, a Day of Poland?
- Curitiba - 'A city of a smile', known as the capital city of the Brazilian Polish Diaspora, was assigned by organizers as a host city for groups coming from Poland and Ukraine. According to the information given by the rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in Brazil - Fr. Zdzisław MalczewskiTChr, about 400 young Poles will come from Poland, who will be accompanied by 4 bishops. We are also going to host groups of young people of the Polish Diaspora. Many of them will find accommodation in parishes run by monks of Christ's Order. Young people from Curitiba enthusiastically undertook organizing the stay of people at their age. And, for example, young people from the parish of St. Peter and Paul in Curitiba, who are going to host the representatives of the diocese of Kielce, have already made internet contacts with their friends from Poland.
One of the days of the Missionary Week was planned as a Day of Poland. On 19 July the youth meet in a park in Curitiba named John Paul II. The park was established by Rafael de Macedo Grece, the prefect of Curitiba, to commemorate a visit of the Holy Father which took place in 1980.The Polish Catholic Mission in Brazil is responsible for events of the Polish diaspora of religious and cultural character, which are held there. Besides the monument of John Paul II and MIkołaj Kopernik, in Curitiba there are also houses built by the first Polish emigrants in the State of Parana. Exhibitions organized in them show everyday life of the first emigrants. In the centre of the park there is a house in which there is a chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa. It was brought from an interior in Parana and set up on the stadium Couto Pereira in Curitiba, where the Polish Diaspora of Brazil was welcoming the Holy Father John Paul II with bread and salt. He also gave the beginning of the park which after some time became one of the most famous tourist places in Curitiba.
One of the elements encouraging to participate in the World Youth's Days is a photograph presenting a Brazil family, which is waiting with open arms for the youth from all over the world, like Christ the Redeemer is waiting with his open arms from the Corcovado Mount. I think that this photograph presents openness and friendliness of the Catholics from here the best, who want to host pilgrims in their country and experience joy of the common faith.
We trust that the World Youth's Days will become an occasion for renewal also for the local Church and they will be an excellent element of new evangelization on the area of this enormous country.
Fr. Kazimierz Długosz TChr, born in 1962, comes from Kielce, from the Parish of St. Joseph the Worker, where his parents live till now. In 1982, in Poznań he joined the Order of Christ's Priests. He has been working in Brazil for over 20 years. At present he is a provincial of the Southern-American province of Christ's Society