World Youth Day Diary

World Youth Day Diary

Fr James D. Fanning mhm

Today the Pope was welcomed by the Youth with song and dance from all the continents.

He had come from the presidential palace in a tram and only entered his Popemobile near to the stadium. We are told that youth from 187 countries are present, an estimated 600,000 were there. More will come at the weekend especially from Poland. All frontiers are crossed and the youth of the world are united.

The Pope looked very happy and relaxed. The choreography was excellent. The pity was we were so far away and a big flag kept being waved between us and the main screen. We had to be content following it on more distant screens. After highlighting young saints from all over the world..Maria Goretti..Isidore Bakanja..Josephine Bakhita..among so many, the gospel of Martha and Mary was proclaimed in two languages (one in Polish and the other in 'old Polish'!) The Pope proceeded to preach quite long in Italian (which I hardly understand) about John Paul, mercy, Joy and the Youth.

Once again the ground was wet and we stood on the yellow freely dispensed bin bags, but the rain held off for the two hour ceremony of welcome. A helicopter was watching like a modern protecting angel over the large crowd from on high.

Our local catechesis was given this morning by the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, bishop Barron.

He encouraged us to listen to our consciences and follow them. I have read that 801 bishops are registered here though not all are giving catecheses. In our Church at Podleze one of the participants is a bishop from Ghana. He has brought sixty youth and a dozen priests with him. Both the bishop of today and yesterday paid tribute to the vibrancy of the African Church.

The key to finding my way round this vast city and celebration is the mobile phone. Only today did I get to the place where I could pick up my registration kit. But I am still not registered as a priest! But they did instal the WYD app on my phone. They had good wi-fi at the centre!

The mission to the youth requires learning their language and knowing their aspirations. It seems they find it very hard in the parishes on Sundays. These youth from Germany look for original sermons and pastors who will talk about important things like the Eucharist, marriage, confession and who will give them time…. They are hungry spiritually! Guess what their language is? Youtube and the mobile phone.

I decided to head back early tonight before the crowds block the roads again and I don't get home till 4am like on Tuesday. We stay about fifteen kilometres outside Kraków.The older youth stayed behind to paint the town red and I think they missed the last train. I got home at 8.40 pm and the younger youth turned up five minutes later. I was treated to a delicious polish supper in the big house across the compound where the younger youth are being put up. The good thing about moving with the youth is that there are many who speak English and they like to do it. Mill Hill is well placed for the evangelisation of the youth having English as its common language. Although I gave them all a Mill Hill vocations flyer I told them I was not mainly looking for new Mill Hill priests.

My aim is to promote 'spirit filled evangelisers' as Pope Francis mentioned in Joy of the Gospel.

Everybody is called to be that but only a few are called to be priests and religious. It went down well in their ears. We are staying with families who have offered hospitality gratuitously to the youth – and they feed us as well! I had a nice supper together with the youth with elders looking happily on. In the background was the Polish television still giving live coverage of the events of the day. The Pope too had arrived back at his house and was greeting people from his window before retiring for the night. End of third day.

Fr. James D. Fanning mhm

Read also UCANews report

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