World Youth Days: Retrospect and Prospect
Posted by Thomas Rosica on 1 July, 2016
(Cindee's Note: While this is a bit long, there are GREAT reflection questions for parish staffs and youth ministry teams to consider, even if you do not have young adults participating in the WOrld Youth Day Pilgrimages.)
In preparation for World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland later this month, I have prepared a series of reflections that I will share with you in the coming weeks. I write these thoughts from Canada, especially today on our country’s national day: “Canada Day.” I had the privilege of serving as the National Director and Chief Executive Officer of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, Canada. It was a unique, unforgettable experience that changed my life and the lives of the hundreds of young adults who world closely with me in preparation of that blessed event. Fourteen years after the great event of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, we are still reaping the benefits of those blessed days when joy and hope invaded our nation, from sea to sea to sea! One of the first fruits of Canada’s international event in 2002 was the birth of Salt and Light Catholic Television Network in 2003 – a unique media platform which now enters its fourteenth year.
As we prepare for the next edition of World Youth Day in Krakow later this month, let us ask how the vision and hope of St. John Paul II have impacted our own efforts in pastoral ministry with young people. The experiences of World Youth Days in recent years have brought much new life to each of the countries where the great events have taken place. One of the important goals of World Youth Day is to instill hope and vibrancy in the church – to differ with the cynicism, despair, and meaninglessness so prevalent in the world today. Pope John Paul II knew well that our world today offers fragmentation, loneliness, alienation, and rampant globalization that exploit the poor.
What have the joy, exuberance, and creativity surrounding World Youth Days in Canada (2002), Cologne (2005), Sydney (2008), Madrid (2011) and Rio de Janiero (2013) taught us, and how have they transformed youth and young adult ministry in our local churches and dioceses? How have we initiated a “preferential option” for young people in the church today? How can we give the flavor of the gospel and the light of Christ to the world today? Let us consider seven aspects of World Youth Days. I will use our own Toronto experience as a mirror or backdrop but know that these aspects apply to each World Youth Day, no matter where it took place.
Does the bible play a significant part in our ministry with young people? What biblical stories and images animate our pastoral initiatives with young people? How often have we turned elsewhere to find “themes”, “ideas”, “fillers” for our work with young people, rather than drawing our deepest inspiration from biblical stories, biblical language, biblical themes that no consulting agency, pop-jargon or fleeting trend can offer?
Is the teaching of the Blesseds and Saints an integral part of our catechesis, Evangelization, formation of young people? In a world that desperately seeks authentic heroes and heroines, how often do we present the Blesseds and Saints as the real role models for young people today?
Over the past fourteen years, I have received hundreds of letters, testimonies, witnesses from young people speak convincingly that their vocations were born at large vigil ceremonies with John Paul II, during the Sacrament of Reconciliation at World Youth Days and in the midst of catechesis sessions. A whole new generation of young adults identifies the World Youth Day experiences to be critical in their discernment process. In working with Catholic young adults, we have the responsibility and obligation to raise the subject of priestly, religious, and lay ministry vocations with openness, conviction, pastoral sensitivity and common sense.
How many times have I heard university chaplains, vocation directors, formation directors and youth ministers express fears and even disdain over the pious and devotional practices of today’s generation of young people. Such piety and devotion are not to be downplayed or dismissed in vocational and priestly formation work. They can indeed become a creative foundation upon which we can build for the future. Piety and devotion can be springboards to mature faith.
World Youth Day does not belong to one Pope
In remarks at the concluding Mass of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, Cardinal George Pell thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his presence at Australia’s great event. Sydney’s Archibshop said that World Youth Day acts as an antidote to images of Catholicism as in decline or wracked by controversy. “It shows the church as it really is, alive with evangelical energy.” Your Cardinal, George Pell concluded his address to Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Race Course with these prophetic and affirming words:
“Your Holiness, the World Youth Days were the invention of Pope John Paul the Great. The World Youth Day in Cologne was already announced before your election. You decided to continue the World Youth Days and to hold this one in Sydney. We are profoundly grateful for this decision, indicating that the World Youth Days do not belong to one pope, or even one generation, but are now an ordinary part of the life of the Church. The John Paul II generation – young and old alike – is proud to be faithful sons and daughters of Pope Benedict.”
World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto was not a show, a rave party, a protest, or photo opportunity. It was an invitation and a proposal for something new. Against a global background of terror and fear, economic collapse in many countries, and ecclesial scandals, World Youth Day 2002 presented a bold, alternative vision of compelling beauty, hope, and joy… a vision and energy.
We may choose to speak of our World Youth Days as something in the past – that brightened the shadows and monotony of our lives at one shining moment in history in 2002 or in 2005, 2008, 2011 or 2013. Some may wish to call those golden days of July 2002 or subsequent summers “Camelot” moments. That is one way to consider the WYD – fading memories of extraordinary moments in national histories.
There is, however, another way: the Gospel way. The Gospel story is not about “Camelot” but about “Magnificat”, constantly inviting Christians to take up Mary’s hymn of praise and thanksgiving for the ways that Almighty God breaks through human history here and now. This way is not only nourished by memories, however good and beautiful they may be. The resurrection of Jesus is not a memory of a distant, past event, but it is Good News that continues to be fulfilled today – here and now. The Christian story is neither folklore nor nostalgia – a trip down triumphal church lane.
As we in Canada continue to bask in the glorious light of the summer of 2002 in Canada, we must be honest and admit that World Youth Days offer no panacea or quick fix to the problems and challenges of our times, or the challenges facing the Church today as we reach out to younger generations. Instead, World Youth Days offer a new framework and new lenses through which we look at the Church and the world, and build our common future. One thing is clear: no one could go away from Toronto 2002 thinking that it is possible to compartmentalize the faith or reduce it to a few rules and regulations and Sunday observances.
World Youth Day 2002 and the visit of St. John Paul II brought Toronto not gold, silver and bronze medals, but something even greater: it gave Canada its soul. Through those blessed days, we experienced once again the fulfillment of the Second Vatican Council’s desires: together we were witnesses to the Council’s hopes and dreams for the Church and for humanity, when every nation, every tribe, came together to worship the Lord. Now let us pray together that the Generations of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, will truly become the Spirit’s joyful witnesses to the ends of the earth… that they may be truly become Catholic, universal, open to the world.
PRAYER FOR WYD KRAKOW 2016
“God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world
and of every man and woman”.
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths
of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong
and joy to those who are unhappy.
Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us
become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Faustina, pray for us.
(End note: please do keep all those involved in World Youth Day events in your prayers,
in particular the 5 pilgrims going to Poland from our diocese:
Anna, Nicky, Rena, Andrea and Cindee.)
As I read Heidi Schlumf's column in the National Catholic Reporter, "Why More Catholic Parishes Should Offer Vacation Bible School," I found myself not only agreeing with what she wrote, which you can read online at:
but also with how it can be such a great outreach to older kids. I know that many parishes already have been utilizing the energies and ideas of teens for VBS, but I'd like to see EVERY parish do so! SO I would like to list just a few reasons why more parishes should offer VBS and invite teens to assist:
> It helps connect the teens to the parish community in a different wa.
> It gives the teens a way to contribute to the larger community and live out their Baptismal Call
> It lets teens try out some skills that they may want to build upon for future vocational or hobby choices. For instance, if they are considering majoring in elementary education, child care, parish ministry, recreation or even parenting, they will get to try out working with children to see if they like it (before tuition dollars are spent!)
> It allows the teens to share gifts such as music, story-telling, crafting, food preparation, or office duties (if they assist with attendance check lists, making copies, etc.)
> It gives YOU more help and this help has more energy than the lovely grandmas and mothers that may already be part of the program!
> It gives smaller children the chance to see older kids staying involved at Church, which may help them desire to stay involved as they age.
> It provides something useful for the teens to do for a few days of summer break, so perhaps the parents can have a few hours of relief from hearing: I'm bored!
> It provides Service Hours for teens who need them for school or National Honor Society, and it can be done within a faith context which can enrich the volunteering experience.
> It is just fun to see the teens get into the music, stories, crafts and other activities of VBS!
> It is youth ministry as you are providing an opportunity for the teens to be involved (but it doesn't take another evening or weekend out of your schedule!) Consider the 8 components of Comprehensive youth Ministry.... The teens learn with the children (or perhaps learn more when they prepare to teach a lesson for the VBS). IF YOU CHOSE to have the teens stay over lunch for a discussion on how the morning went, you could then dig deeper into the topic/theme of the day on the adolescent level which would then bring catechesis into the session. Asking them how they saw Christ that morning allows for evangelization. Praying for the blessings of the day and the VBS kids incorporates prayer. The teens working with the younger kids and serving with older adults builds community life. Plus, they are offering service which is part of Justice and Service. Trying out new skills and helping them prepare to lead sessions are elements of leadership development, and their mere presence is a source of advocacy to those who see how they contribute to the community.
For those of you that do incorporate teens into your VBS, what other reasons might you add?
Just a reminder that teens should not be left solely responsible for minors, in complying with our Diocesan Child Protection Policy, a back-ground checked adult should be supervising. However, smaller groups can have teen facilitators that are supervised by an adult! Teens, with guidance and preparation can be great at leading music, crafts, discussions, and helping teach lessons, serve snacks, and organize games.
This article seemed hidden on another page, so is copied here to be more easily accessed. Also be sure to pull up the Diocesan Child Protection Policy page to assure you have all your adults ready to serve with the youth!
"Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4: 9 - 11)
CONSIDERATIONS in planning
Mission trips or service trips:
All projects, whether local or distant, should involve the following elements:
These program elements are widely adaptable to service opportunities that are suited to different regions, cultures, age groups, education levels, and issues. They are essential to ensuring that all young people who participate, whether they serve through their place of worship, school, or community group, benefit from the experience.
(Much of this article was taken and revised from "Summer of Service: A New American Rite of Passage" by Shirley Sagawa. It was published by Innovations in Civic Participation, Washington D.C., www.icicp.org)
Check out the additional items posted on the Service and Justice page of this site:
Perhaps you take some time for prayer before you break groups up into cars with Diocesan Child Protection compliant adult drivers with the liability & release forms from the parents and send them off to Kenny Wood, Cedar Point, or other amusement parks....of maybe you take advantage of an hour or three on a bus with ice-breakers, prayer and an instructional video to include some catechesis in the day of fun.... but do you intertwine catechesis or prayer into the amusement park?
It seems natural when someone is usually yelling out, "Oh God" as a roller coaster nears to the top of its largest hill or once a spinny ride has been going for over a minute. How can we encourage teens to see God in their experiences (besides praying for a long long to move quickly or for the rain to hold off a while longer!)? Here are just a few suggestions -- and I welcome others to be added:
1. Prior to your event day, be sure to get a list of the amusement park attractions. You may be able to play on the names of some rides so that they can think about that when they ride, while they wait, or even as they walk by it.
+ Cedar Point's Blue Streak coaster -- are your teens familiar with the old term about someone 'cussing/cursing up a blue streak' in that a lot of foul language is used? What does the Bible say about cursing? What about the catechism? When they see the Blue Streak, can they pray for God to help them keep clean mouths?
A few Bible verses to get you started:
No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 5:1 - 4
So be imitators of God,* as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.
Colossians 3:8- 10
But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain
Colossians 4:5 - 6
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.
You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.
+ Cedar Downs Racing Derby --
Talk about St. Paul's analogy of "Running the Race" in our faith journey (Philipians 3: 12 - 16)
+ There is a LOT that can be done regarding the Waters of Baptism to be reflected upon on any water ride at Kennywood ( Log Jammer, Pittsburg Plunge and Raging Rapids), Cedar Point (Shoot the Rapids, Snake River Falls, Thunder Canyon), anything at Wildwater Kingdom..... or at your parish festival dunking booth ;-)
2. Challenge your group members to seek out the good -- look for people helping others, i.e. picking up something some else dropped.....helping a parent with a small child....holding a door or gate open for the next person.... can they find at least ten different examples before lunch?
During lunch, have them share the examples they witnessed.
After lunch, challenge them, can they then do ten nice things for strangers around the park?
Perhaps reading from Matthew 5; 13 - 16 can help:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
OK, your turn to share some ideas.....
Best wishes for a safe, fun, and spiritually enriching summer!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE YOUTH MINISTRY "THING"
DURING THE SUMMER?
Despite summer school classes, seasonal jobs and family vacations, there still seems to be such wonderful opportunities in youth ministry over the summer. Many will load up buses to trek up to Cedar Point or over to Kennywood....others will take in a baseball game with the Indians, Aeros, Scrappers or Pirates....some great Bible studies and movie discussion nights will take place....teens will help with Vacation Bible Schools and go on mission trips. ALL are great times for catechesis, evangelization, pastoral care, community life, advocacy, leadership development, service a prayer!
What is YOUR favorite, and why? (Please post as a "comment" below)
Gearing up for Summer Programming!
As many schools and other programs start to wind down for the summer, most youth ministry programs are gearing up for months of opportunities for the teens. So, how many of you will be....
+ Going to Cedar point for a fun day (and possibly catechesis and prayer on the bus)?
+ Going on a mission trip and/or holding local days of service?
+ Having sports-outings (i.e. to see the Areos or Indians, or to play)?
+ Having swim parties or hiking treks?
+ Taking advantage of outdoor labyrinths and other prayer walks?
+ Inviting teens to help with Vacation Bible School events?
+ Participating in The Fest, Alive, or other outdoor Catholic/Christian festivals?
+ Particpating in retreats and summer conferences?
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.