Lidia Dudkiewicz talks with Bishop Henryk Tomasik, responsible for organizing the World Youth Days about the program of the World Youth Days – Kraków 2016, about fascination with John Paul II and the Ch@t with a word

LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ: - Why was just Poland elected as a place for the meeting of the Holy Father with the youth in 2016?

BISHOP HENRYK TOMASIK: - Maybe the Holy Father Francis wanted to emphasize his respect to St. John Paul II in this way, and, therefore, he accepted the invitation of the Polish Episcopal and state authorities. In 2011, during the World Youth’s Days with Benedict XVI in Madrid, there was a meeting of the Polish and Polish Diaspora youth. At that time, many young Poles asked cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz for a possibility to organize the World Youth’s Days in Poland. However, we all know that such decisions are taken by the Holy Father. And …..finally, we managed to wait till the moment, in 2013 during the XXVIII World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro, when pope Francis announced that in 2016 the youth would meet together in Kraków.

– What is the state of preparations for the World Youth Days in Kraków? Do we already know this program?

– In his Message for the World Youth Days in 1990, pope John Paul II wrote: ‘The World Day is not only a feast but also a serious spiritual task. If it is to be fruitful, it is necessary to get prepared for it under the supervision of priests in dioceses and parishes, associations, movements and religious youth’s communities’. (A message for the 5th World Youth Days, 1990, ‘L’Osservatore Romano’, 10-11/1090).
The Organizational Committee of the World Youth Days in Kraków, whose chairman is the cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, with the cooperation of the Papal Council for Laymen, undertook a very difficult task of preparation of this unusual event. I know that there are advanced works in many issues concerning this meeting.
The National Pastoral Ministry received the task of spiritual preparation of young Poles for the World Youth Days – Kraków 2016. This program connects pastoral assumptions of the Church in Poland with indications of the Holy Father which are included in the message for the World Youth Days experienced in a particular year.
On 29 November 2014 the program which was entitled ‘A ch@t with a word’ ended, and on the first Sunday of Advent, on 30 November 2014, the program entitled ‘Heart 2.0’ began. This program connects pastoral assumptions of the Church in Poland with the message of the Holy Father Francis. ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel!’ (see Mk 1.15) – this is the motto of the pastoral year in Poland which began on the first Sunday of Advent. ‘Blessed of the pure heart, as they will see God’ (see Mt. 5.8) – is the title of the Message for XXX World Youth Days (2015).
The purpose of the program ‘Heart 2.0’ is a deep reflection on the both sacraments: repentance and Eucharist. The first month (December 2014) had an introductory character; next, four months (from January to April 2015) concerning repentance and other seven (from May to November 2015) - Eucharist. Among prepared materials we will find: scenarios of meetings, conferences with reflection, suggestions of adoration divine services with celebration of reconciliation sacrament, comments for the Holy Mass, and also conspectus of meetings in a group and individual meditations. Authors of the program, priests and a group of young people also suggest dealing with a special amount of money, that is, ‘Cultural Academy of Heart’. Complementation of text materials are various multimedia placed on the website, including interviews with interesting people and video-comments for Sunday Gospels, prepared by the youth. I invite you to the website:
Within the spiritual preparation, what is extremely valuable, is creating diocesan and parish ‘centres of the World Youth Days’. A prayer in the intention of the World Youth Days, implementing the spiritual program of the preparation for the World Youth Days, undertaking pastoral initiatives and preparing volunteers for the World Youth Days are a valuable contribution in the preparation for the World Youth Days – Kraków 2016.
A program? An official program is certainly going to be announced by the Holy See. However, the World Youth Days have already an elaborated scheme. What can we expect?
From 14 December 2014 to 20 July 2016 – the Pilgrimage of the Cross of World Youth Days and the copy of the Image of Our Lady ‘Salus Populi Romani’ (Salvation of the Roman People). It is already tradition that the main events of the World Youth Days are preceded by the stay of guests in the country which is going to be the host of the meeting. So, on the days 20-25 July 2015 we are going to be the host of young people from all over the world in our dioceses, and on 26 July meetings in Kraków will begin (inauguration, catechesis, Festival of the Youth). Probably on 28 July we will participate in the Stations Road of the Cross and on 30 July we will participate in the prayer vigil with the Holy Father. Eucharist is planned for Sunday 31 July, which is going to be presided over by pope Francis.

– The World Youth Days in Częstochowa were said to be open up to the East. Will there be also a breakthrough in Kraków?

– The geopolitical place of Poland gives us an important mission. We connect the East with the West. In 1991 Poles turned out to be good hosts and gave accommodation to a big crowd of pilgrims from the East. We hope that it will happen again. A beautiful sign of this hospitality is engagement of many young Poles in the action ‘A ticket for my brother’.

– Surely, St. John Paul II will be somehow present on the World Youth Days in Kraków….

– The World Youth Days have the spirit of St. John Paul II. They appeared from love of the Polish Pope to Christ and to the youth. St. John Paul II will probably be the patron of the World Youth Days in Kraków. Poland and the very Kraków are associated by thousands of young people from all over the world just with the person of St. John Paul II.

– What does the Church in Poland have to offer to the youth from all over the world?

– Poland has a rich history full of the spirit of the Gospel. It has great people who based their life on faith in Christ. It has a lot of saints, also the young ones, who can be an example for the youth. We have parishes, families, which are a ‘small Church’. We have fervent priests and people of consecrated life, devoted to God and people. We have communities, religious movements and associations caring about real Christian formation. We have many hospitable houses. We have a lot of good young people of open hearts, who want to experience the mystery of the universal Church with other young people from all over the world.

– Pope Francis raises enthusiasm in young people. Do these feelings have a chance to be reflected in the emotional attachment to the Church?

– The Holy Father Francis showed young people a triple task in the homily ending the XXVIII World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro: ‘Go, without any fear to serve’. These three tasks can be a key to understand the teaching of the Holy Father Francis which are addressed to young people. ‘Go’ means calling for following the path of faith in a steadfast way: ‘Be steadfast in following the path of faith with strong hope in Lord. This is the mystery of our journey! He gives us courage to go against all trends’ – said the Holy Father on 28 April 2013 on the Square of St. Peter in Rome, while he was celebrating Eucharist during which 44 people received the sacrament of confirmation.
The path of faith enriches the man with new dimensions. They are hope and love. Thanks to it, life becomes fulfilled. ‘Dear young people, it is also so in our life; if we want it to have a real sense and be fulfilled, as you want it and deserve it, I am telling all of you: ‘add faith’ and your life will get a new taste, it will have a compass showing a direction; ‘add hope’ and your every day will be brighter and your horizon will not be dark any more, but it will be full of light; ‘add love’ and your life will be like a house built on a rock, your life journey will be joyful because you will meet a lot of friends who are going together with you’ – the Holy Father Francis said to young people on 25 July 2013 on the beach Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro during the welcome meeting with participants of the XXVIII World Youth Days. ‘Faith is a flame which illuminates a path. This flame becomes brighter when it is shared among people’ – pope Francis said.
Passing the Gospel over to others is bringing God’s power which changes the man and the world. Such a path of faith is following Christ. During the XXVIII World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Father Francis encouraged young people to courageous accepting Christ: ‘Therefore, today I am telling you, all of you: ‘add Christ’ to your life and you will find a Friend, whom you can always trust’.
Beautiful indications of pope Francis, as well as teaching of St. John Paul II are a task which requires cooperation. God’s grace and a prayer are necessary. Our youth needs also help from good parents, fervent priests and catechists, solicitous teachers and responsible educators of the public life.


„Niedziela” 2/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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