The last stop on the way to Madrid
The last stop before the XXVI World Youth Day was at Jasna Gora on 18 June 2011. It was here – exactly 20 years ago – that the VI World Youth Day was held with the Holy Father John Paul II. ‘For several years we have begun our World Youth Day from this place, which was the only one in Poland that hosted young people from all over the world. Such ‘sendings’ were held before the WYD in Cologne and Sydney,’ said Fr Grzegorz Suchodolski, the Director of the Polish office of the World Youth Day. ‘We want to constantly remind people, especially the witnesses of those days, that the song ‘Abba, Father’ and the spirit of unity has lasted since 1991,’ he admits.
About 1,000 people came for the meeting called ‘National Sending to Madrid’ before the World Youth Day. The Mass celebrated by Bishop Henryk Tomasik, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference Council for Youth Ministry, in the chapel of Our Lady was the central element of the meeting. Bishop Tomasik delivered a homily. One of the aims of this year’s meeting was to thank for the gift of beatification of John Paul II, especially for establishing the World Youth Day 26 years ago. Bishop Tomasik reminded us the words of Blessed John Paul II that are like his last will directed to young people, ‘I have looked for you and now you have come to me.’ The respect for Blessed John Paul II requires meeting his expectations and they include our participation in the World Youth Day – it was one of the most wonderful ideas of Blessed John Paul II. ‘Pope Benedict XVI continues this great mission to gather young people and he defines the WYD ‘great feast of faith,’ Bishop Tomasik said. ‘When we look at Europe we can see that it is losing its roots. Europe is afraid of the word ‘Christianity.’ In its many documents this word has been written after much discussion and perhaps Europe fears most the word ‘Christ.’ There have been huge changes in many people’s thinking and mentality has changed in many countries, including our own. The bishop encouraged us to use the invitation of Benedict XVI directed to young people. The motto of this year’s World Youth Day ‘Rooted and founded in Christ, strengthened in the faith’ is a guideline, signpost and encouragement to deepen our faith so that we can serve the task to make Europe rooted deeper in Christ and make Europe strong in the faith. Another accent we can see in the Pope’s message is the firm foundations and strong faith. The meeting was also a working day for tutors, volunteers and participants of the Polish groups. ‘For a year and a half we have been working in the National Office of the World Youth Day. We have co-ordinated Poles’ preparations for this event and acted as a go-between Poland and Spain. We have helped the Polish groups experience this time as best as possible, ‘says Jakub Duszak, one of the organisers. It is an excellent occasion for the organisers to meet and make a check-in of tutors, give last information that they manage to get with difficulty from the Spanish committee. ‘These two months before the World Youth Day mean a lot of work for the Spanish organisers. We do not know about the accommodation, how the pilgrims’ packets will be delivered, how to reserve meals by cell phones. The details concerning the accommodation in Madrid and the entire archdiocese will be given only in July,’ Fr Grzegorz Suchodolski stresses. The organisational meeting was also devoted to questions and explanations of all doubts. 1,500 volunteers are going to Madrid. Our volunteers’ group will be the second largest after the Spanish one. The XXVI World Youth Day will be held in Madrid on 16-21 August 2011. Pope Benedict XVI is going to meet young people gathered there. In the 26 year history of the Word Youth Day ten meetings had international characters. A film from the meeting, which will be prepared by the TV studio of ‘Niedziela,’ can be seen at: www.niedziela.pl/flv.php?flv=sdm_201106.