World Youth Day (WYD) is the largest gathering of young people coming from all over the world to celebrate faith in a more youthful encounter. It is celebrated annually in Rome and goes international every 3 years. For this year, it was held in Sydney, Australia on July 15-20 wherein I was privileged to be part of as pilgrim.
Australia has a 26% rate of baptized Catholics. This number indeed speaks about plurality in a 23 million population with 5.1 million people sharing the same faith and practices. Though a big mass of believers are these Catholics, more people there are more focused to others things rather than Catholicism or other faith at that. Am not quite sure, but maybe this could be one good reason why the Church also decided to celebrate WYD there, to renew the faith of the people through the grace of God and the Spirit.
“You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts1:8) This passage occurs after the death and resurrection of Jesus, just before his ascension to the Father. It represents the birth of the Church. This is the central theme WYD08. It says many things about what’s happening today to the society, to the world, to the young. The theme per se invites everyone, starting from young people to be born and reborn again in their Catholic faith, an encouragement that challenges and at the same time empowers us to rebirth our beliefs and aspirations again and again to a God that never stops loving over and over again. It is an invitation to love and to be witness of love that which empowers us and makes us hope, believe, and live our faith centered to Love. This encapsulates the message of WYD08 for me as this entry also brings together all the reflections in my heart for the past three weeks of being there.
Indeed the Pope and WYD is inseparable, and though inseparable WYD doesn’t belong to any pope. WYD belongs to the Church. It belongs to the young. This is what makes the Church young, the young itself. As John Paul II would say it, “The youth is not the future of this world, they are the now.” Young as we are, we hold in our hands the power to create the possibilities that we are. Popes pass just like other leaders do, but for sure there would be more World Youth Days to come after the next which would be in Spain on 2011 because the fact is, WYD is not the Pope’s event but the youth’s.