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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Catholics to attend World Youth Day

About 70 people from the Diocese of Lexington will attend World Youth Day next week in Sydney, Australia.
But for those who can't be there, Lexington radio personality Leo Brown will broadcast his daily program, Diocese Live!, from Sydney. The program is heard on RealLife radio, 1380-AM, from 3:10 to 4 p.m. EDT
Brown will also record Pilgrim Podcasts, experiences of World Youth Day participants; blog about his own experiences; and upload photos. All the features will appear on
”It's big stuff trying to make this broadcast happen,“ said Brown, 39.
World Youth Day is actually six days of activity, beginning July 15 with daily Mass, catechesis (teaching) and programs promoting the universality of the Catholic church. The event concludes July 20, when Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.
This year's event is expected to draw 125,000 international visitors to Australia. Most will range from their teens to 40.
The Lexington contingent, which included Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, departed last weekend for Auckland, New Zealand, where they will meet Catholics in the city and work on a service project before going to Sydney.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The 2011 World Youth Day will be much like its precedents -- "a party that the Holy Father convokes" -- but the role that networking will play in the event is sure to give it a special flair, according to its director of communications.

Santiago de la Cierva, founder and director of the "Rome Reports" TV agency and a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, was asked by the host of '11 Youth Day, Madrid's archbishop, Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, to be the director of communications.

De la Cierva said the first thing that came to his mind in response was, "Is there no one else?" But, kidding aside, the communications professor admitted these kinds of opportunities are like trains that pass by: "Someone tells you, 'get on board,' and with a little faith, one can realize that even though it makes your life more complicated, though there are obviously no free evenings, no weekends or vacations … deep down you realize that it's worth it."

De la Cierva says leading communication for World Youth Day will be "a fantastic adventure."

"My hair is going to go gray," he declared, "but it will be worth it because this is very much in the heart of the Church and the youth do not have many opportunities to say 'The Church is mine.'"

ZENIT spoke with de la Cierva about the challenges of World Youth Day communication and what can be expected of the Pope when it comes to reaching out to youth with their own style of communication.

ZENIT: What will be special about Madrid 2011, compared to previous World Youth Days?

De la Cierva: Madrid 2011 will have nothing new compared to the other events, except the location, the historical moment, the hopes to do very well, everything that comes with having it in a country like Spain that has 2,000 years of Christianity and where the very stones ooze the faith, ooze a centuries-old tradition. This is what will make of Madrid 2011 a very special World Youth Day.

Taking into account that we are in Europe, at the end of Europe, but Europe nonetheless, we calculate that more than a million people will come. We will probably try to reach what happened here in Rome in the year 2000, but that doesn't depend on us.

I think the particularity of the World Youth Day in Madrid is going to be precisely that it takes place in a country that has always been faithful to the Catholic Church. It is a country that has transmitted the faith to many continents; the majority of the Catholics of the whole world speak Spanish precisely because they have been evangelized by Spaniards, and we would like to recover this missionary spirit. Sometimes missionaries are thought of as older people who went to preach to foreign lands, but no, the missionaries were under 25. We would like to recover this spirit and present it to the youth of today.

Another characteristic of the Madrid World Youth Day will be networks. For the first time, we are going to have a World Youth Day in which really the fundamental means of communication will be the Internet, the social networks, not only as information but also as communication, to create communities. In Sydney, this already began, but I think this is going to be the explosion. Explosion as well of new technologies. In 2011, probably almost everyone who comes will have new generation cell phones. It will be very easy to be in contact, to receive information, take advantage of the phone, the terminals, to receive the translations of the Holy Father's words, the organizational messages, etc.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pope Addresses Youth of the World

“We have set our hope on the living God” (1 Tim 4:10)

My dear friends,
Next Palm Sunday we shall celebrate the twenty-fourth World Youth Day at the diocesan level. As we prepare for this annual event, I recall with deep gratitude to the Lord the meeting held in Sydney in July last year. It was a most memorable encounter, during which the Holy Spirit renewed the lives of countless young people who had come together from all over the world [you can say that again!]. The joy of celebration and spiritual enthusiasm experienced during those few days was an eloquent sign of the presence of the Spirit of Christ. Now we are journeying towards the international gathering due to take place in Madrid in 2011, which will have as its theme the words of the Apostle Paul: “Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). As we look forward to that global youth meeting, let us undertake a path of preparation together. We take as our text for the year 2009 a saying of Saint Paul: “We have set our hope on the living God” (1 Tim 4:10), while in 2010 we will reflect on the question put to Jesus by the rich young man: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17)
Youth, a time of hope
In Sydney, our attention was focussed upon what the Holy Spirit is saying to believers today, and in particular to you, my dear young people. During the closing Mass, I urged you to let yourselves be shaped by him in order to be messengers of divine love, capable of building a future of hope for all humanity [This message really, it seems to me, is at the heart of his entire pontificate]. The question of hope is truly central to our lives as human beings and our mission as Christians, especially in these times. We are all aware of the need for hope, not just any kind of hope, but a firm and reliable hope, as I wanted to emphasize in the Encyclical Spe Salvi. Youth is a special time of hope because it looks to the future with a whole range of expectations. When we are young we cherish ideals, dreams and plans. Youth is the time when decisive choices concerning the rest of our lives come to fruition. Perhaps this is why it is the time of life when fundamental questions assert themselves strongly: Why am I here on earth? What is the meaning of life? What will my life be like? And again: How can I attain happiness? Why is there suffering, illness and death? What lies beyond death? These are questions that become insistent when we are faced with obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable: difficulties with studies, unemployment, family arguments, crises in friendships or in building good loving relationships, illness or disability, lack of adequate resources as a result of the present widespread economic and social crisis. We then ask ourselves: where can I obtain and how can I keep alive the flame of hope burning in my heart? [How can anyone really believe that this Pope doesn't get it? He does. He understands humanity far better than many of us, and he is not afraid to address the difficult and painful questions of life that so many others do not touch. Too many youth ministers today are content with "fluff;" not Pope Benedict.]
In search of “the great hope”


Monday, September 28, 2009

Message of Pope Benedict for World Youth Day 2009

"The crisis of hope is more likely to affect the younger generations. In socio-cultural environments with few certainties, values or firm points of reference, they find themselves facing difficulties that seem beyond their strength. My dear young friends, I have in mind so many of your contemporaries who have been wounded by life. They often suffer from personal immaturity caused by dysfunctional family situations, by permissive and libertarian elements in their education, and by difficult and traumatic experience. For some – unfortunately a significant number – the almost unavoidable way out involves an alienating escape into dangerous and violent behaviour, dependence on drugs and alcohol, and many other such traps for the unwary. Yet, even for those who find themselves in difficult situations, having been led astray by bad role models, the desire for true love and authentic happiness is not extinguished. But how can we speak of this hope to those young people? We know that it is in God alone that a human person finds true fulfilment. The main task for us all is that of a new evangelization aimed at helping younger generations to rediscover the true face of God, who is Love. To you young people, who are in search of a firm hope, I address the very words that Saint Paul wrote to the persecuted Christians in Rome at that time: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13). During this Jubilee Year dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles on the occasion of the two thousandth anniversary of his birth, let us learn from him how to become credible witnesses of Christian hope."
"I would like to conclude this message, my dear young friends, with a beautiful and well-known prayer by Saint Bernard that was inspired by one of Mary’s titles, Stella Maris, Star of the Sea: “You who amid the constant upheavals of this life find yourself more often tossed about by storms than standing on firm ground, do not turn your eyes from the brightness of this Star, if you would not be overwhelmed by boisterous waves. If the winds of temptations rise, if you fall among the rocks of tribulations, look up at the Star, call on Mary … In dangers, in distress, in perplexities, think on Mary, call on Mary … Following her, you will never go astray; when you implore her aid, you will never yield to despair; thinking on her, you will not err; under her patronage you will never wander; beneath her protection you will not fear; she being your guide, you will not weary; with her assistance, you will arrive safely in the port” (Homilies in Praise of the Virgin Mother, 2:17).

Mary, Star of the Sea, we ask you to guide the young people of the whole world to an encounter with your Divine Son Jesus. Be the celestial guardian of their fidelity to the Gospel and of their hope.

Dear young friends, be assured that I remember all of you every day in my prayers. I give my heartfelt blessing to you and to all who are dear to you."

Pope Benedict, Message to the Young People of the World on the Occasion of the Twenty-fourth World Youth Day 2009, February 22, 2009.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

She pondered these things in her heart…

I’m not sure if anyone is reading these posts any more, but I do hope so. I haven’t written about the end of the vigil or the Papal mass intentionally. Spending the night at Randwick and celebrating mass with the Holy Father leaves a lot for one to think about. Out of sheer exhaust and also in order to truly digest the entirety of the week, I haven’t written. I know that this post will not do justice to the enormity of World Youth Day, but I will try.
I long to go home and read all of the words of the Holy Father from this blessed event. Staying up all night for the vigil, keeping watch for Christ, lends one to a tired, but happy heart, which makes paying attention very difficult. I can not wait to go home and read through the Holy Father’s homily once more to make sure that I relish in it.
World Youth Day is an entire entity all its own. I was amazed to see what happened at World Youth Day. To see an entire capital uprooted with joyful singing, happy laughter and true devotion to Christ made me cling to all that is true, beautiful and good. Being my first pilgrimage and taking 10 kids with me, it was interesting to see how each teen came to cherish a particular part of the week. For some, it was the closing mass, for others, the earth shaking words came at the vigil and still for others, to see pilgrims from around the world gather for what is true in the world brought them to their knees. I am humbled and in awe to have seen 10 kids take in, process and love God through the entire week. We are still on our pilgrimage, but already, to see how they’ve taken away the bits and pieces of the week and will weave them into their lives. Sydney will never again be the same and I think the same is true for all 212 of us from the Diocese of Arlington. Yes, some will have their lives completely uprooted from the week and others will not, but I know that each one will carry with them from the week.
World Youth Day is all about an emptying of oneself. Just as our Lord pours himself out by becoming human, we too are called to pour our selves out for love of him. I’ve poured, pushed and worked harder this week than I think that I ever had in ministry. At the same time, I’ve seen kids do the same. I’m touched by the kindess they showed, by the fact that they don’t mind being shoved onto a train platform, or the fact that walking back from the closing mass took 3 hours. In so many ways, World Youth Day strips of selfishness and makes us run back to him and for that I am thankful. It’s been a long couple of weeks and I’m eager to be home. When I look back at the pilgrimage, I know that the things I’ll remember the most is the small moments, when in the midst of a crowd of people, the 13 of us came to be loved by God, love God more and love each more. God is so good and I’m so lucky to have had his cup overflow onto me this week.
Over the next few days, I plan on posting a few more things, some tidbits I learned and some of the things I’ll ponder in my heart. I pray for much peace and joy for each of you. Please pray for our safe travels home on Monday.


Monday, July 20, 2009

World Youth Day 2011, August 15-21, in Madrid

“I am sure Madrid will be ready to welcome the Pope as he deserves for the next World Youth Day, which will be held in the Spanish capital in 2011”


MADRID (CNA) - The governor of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, has announced that the dates for World Youth Day 2011 will be August 15-21. She also assured the public that local officials would support the event and ensure it would be a success.

“I am sure Madrid will be ready to welcome the Pope as he deserves for the next World Youth Day, which will be held in the Spanish capital in 2011,” Aguirre said in response to the announcement.

She said she shared the sentiments of Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, who said the event would “have important repercussions for the social, cultural and general life of Spain.”

Aguirre said she was “very happy” that Spain was chosen as the host city for the next World Youth Day and that “it will be a great opportunity for the young people of Madrid, whether they are Catholic or not, because the Pope is a worldwide authority.”


Monday, July 13, 2009

World Youth Day Opens in Sydney

SYDNEY — World Youth Day, the event the Roman Catholic church describes as the largest gathering of young people on the planet, began Tuesday, with 100,000 people attending a mass on a disused wharf overlooking the sparkling waters of Sydney harbor.
It was the formal beginning of six days of celebrations which will culminate on Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI before a predicted 500,000 worshipers.
Like many mainstream Christian denominations, Roman Catholicism is struggling to maintain its following.
Young people are at the center of the battle.
“Many young people today lack hope,” the pope said last week. “They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers.”
But the pope believes that those gathered in Sydney could be part of the solution, and that World Youth Day can be a point of renewal.
“It is my firm belief that young people are called to be instruments of that renewal, communicating to their peers the joy they have experienced through knowing and following Christ,” he said.
The 81-year-old pope arrived in Australia on Sunday, but will not formally join the celebrations until Thursday.
For days, Sydney has been crowded with pilgrims from all over the world, moving around in happy groups, identifiable by the yellow, orange and red backpacks that they have been given.
It has been a formidable logistics operation. Thousands of young pilgrims are sleeping in sports halls, churches and schools across the city.
And the event has found some unusual supporters - 282 pilgrims from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States are sleeping at the Malek Fahd Islamic School in a suburb of Sydney.
“This was a good opportunity to extend our hand in friendship and break down the barriers and misunderstandings between religions,” said Pinad El-Ahmad, who is in charge of inter-religious activities at the school.
“Hospitality is part of our Islamic teaching. We know that the Prophet opened his house and mosque to non-Muslims, and so it is only right that we should do the same,” she said.
Preparations for World Youth Day have not been without controversy.
In an attempt to ensure that the event ran smoothly, the state government in New South Wales passed a law banning people from “annoying” pilgrims, sparking protests that it was an infringement on civil liberties.
A federal court Tuesday struck down the law, paving the way for demonstrators to hand out condoms and coat hangers, references to the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control and abortions they say are the inevitable result.
Many Australians are also uncomfortable that the local and federal governments are subsidizing the event with more than 150 million Australian dollars. Although Australia does not have the same constitutional separation of church and state as the United States, some people are unhappy that the Catholic Church, to which a quarter of Australians belong, appears to be receiving preferential treatment.
Another longstanding problem also resurfaced.
In the last two weeks, Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, has come under close scrutiny for his handling of a sexual abuse case involving a priest.
In 2003, the cardinal sent a letter to an alleged abuse victim, Anthony Jones, dismissing his claims to have been abused by a priest, in part, he said, because there had been no other claims against the priest in question, the Rev. Terence Goodall.
However, on the day he sent the letter to Mr. Jones, the cardinal wrote to another victim, accepting his abuse claim against Father Goodall.
Cardinal Pell denied any coverup, saying his comments to Mr. Jones were “badly worded and a mistake.” He has reopened the inquiry into Mr. Jones’s allegations.
The pope has indicated that he will offer an apology for sexual abuse by priests, as he did on his recent visit to the United States.