Every three years the Pope invites the world’s young people to congregate with him to celebrate and praise the Lord. This tradition began in 1986 by Pope John Paul II in Rome. Since then there have been twelve World Youth Days with the next one scheduled in Krakow, Poland, on July 25-31. The purpose of World Youth Day is to call young people together to worship God, and then send them home to spread God’s message. Thousands and thousands of young people migrate to the chosen country to share in God’s love and sacrament. Our Blessed Trinity chaplin, Father Reto Davatz, has had the privilege of attending World Youth Day three times.
“World Youth Day is a time of celebration, but also one of deeper realization that we are not alone but we are ‘Communio’, that is a community of believers who somehow or another, through Christ and the Eucharist, are all united by the bond of love,” according to Fr. Reto. “Obviously, the degree to which one or another person will experience this varies according to God’s timing and that person’s disposition.”
World Youth Day is a time for young people to experience the universal aspect of the Church, a chance to be in communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ and is an amazing opportunity to shape a young people’s faith. “In terms of shaping young people’s faith, I think WYD, like all things faith related, touches some part of the heart. It certainly shows that you can be young and truly enthusiastic about faith in your life,” said Fr. Reto, “The WYDs that I have gone to have each exhibited the deeply compelling nature of believing and knowing that you are part of a God who calls all people to Himself.”
World Youth Day involves a lot of spiritual preparation of one readying themselves for the holy experiences they will encounter on their pilgrimage. Although he will not be in Poland this year, on his way to his first World Youth Day in Denver of 1993, Father Reto said his most memorable experience was the journey to Colorado when he rode on a coach bus from Canada, and had the opportunity to meet new people who share his love for God. While his journey to World Youth Day was a long and enduring trip, it allowed him spiritually prepare himself with others traveling the same path. “I think that the best spiritual preparation for WYD came on that ride in the bus,” he said. “This made it a true pilgrimage because I was not alone and because it was not altogether easy, but mostly because it took time and during that time we had Mass and prayed every day, which always prepares the heart and the mind for life’s next turn or big event.”
World Youth Day is an amazing opportunity to grow in your faith, and be in total communion with God, the pope, and other young people. “WYD made my faith grow in ways that I think I was unaware of back then,” said Father Reto, “but which helped me to move from the ‘I’ to the ‘we’ a little more and to recognize the centrality of Christ. He is a real person but is He also the One who becomes the reason for our hope.”
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