Dear Parishioners:I hope you’ve been able to see some of the news coverage of the Holy Father’s visit to Brazil for World Youth Day. Huge crowds greeted him upon his arrival. Pope Francis said he had come to Brazil, the country with most Catholics in the world, to "give an account of the reasons for the hope" that comes from faith in Jesus and inspire them to "offer everyone the inexhaustible riches of his love."
World Youth Day began in 1984 at the close of the Holy Year of Redemption, when over 300,000 young people from around the world responded to the invitation of Blessed Pope John Paul II for an International Jubilee of youth on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s square. Looking out to the crowds who answered his invitation he said, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?”
There have been 11 World Youth Day gatherings since 1984. In 1993 World Youth Day was celebrated in Denver, Colorado and it has been held in Spain, Australia, Canada, Italy, Germany, The Philippines, Argentina and Poland. Some might think that such a large gathering of young people that is World Youth Day might bring thoughts of delinquency as the massive crowds of youth flood streets. However, anyone who was to witness this gathering would end those fears. The World Youth Day gatherings are full of smiles and joy, singing and dancing young people, culture upon culture and nation upon nation, proudly holding their flags high, greeting one another in peace, trading their national tokens, humbly realizing how small they are in a world of people, and strengthened to witness so many who share their convictions. Acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of young Catholic pligrims gathered in Rio for World Youth Day, Pope Francis said they need space, which they find in Christ, since "there is no more powerful force than the one released from the hearts of young people when they have been conquered by the experience of friendship with Him."
The coverage of the events of World Youth Day in Rio have centered upon Pope Francis and his unique style. He arrived carrying his own luggage and drove through the streets of Rio in a small Fiat car. The Holy Father seems to have a great sense of humor as well. When the journalists asked for a chance to interview him, Pope Francis responded: “It's true I don't give interviews. I don't know why. I just can't. It's tiresome, but I enjoy your company."
World Youth Day is a great event of joy, hope and faith for our Church. Let us pray for all those hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered together in Rio to celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ and His Church. Also let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, that his pilgrimage might inspire the young people of our Church to be faithful witnesses of Christ. One young pilgrim from the Ivory Coast in Africa when asked what he wanted to happen at the celebration said: “What I want is for our pope to tell all people to have faith and tell people to be friends. The pope cannot resolve the problems of society, but he can illuminate the right path.”
Next week we have a chance to practically aid the good works of Pope Francis by supporting the Peter’s Pence Collection. The 2013 theme is “Be a Pilgrim of Charity” and emphasizes the role of Catholics in allowing Christ’s love to reach others. This worldwide collection supports church needs and humanitarian activities, through support for victims of war, oppression, religious persecution, natural disasters and other human promotion projects around the world. It also assists seminaries and institutes of Christian formation in developing countries.
Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to serve others in need and the Peter’s Pence Collection is a great way to help the Holy Father help those most in need around the world. Have a great week! Pray for World Youth Day and for Pope Francis! God Bless. Go Sox!!