WYD Rio in 2 Years? A Couple of Things to Think About

Pope Benedict XVI announced yesterday that the next World Youth Day will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.  It will be the second time that WYD has been held in South America, as Buenos Aires hosted the second WYD in 1987.  As the demographic centre of Catholicism moves south, it is very exciting that the youth of the world will gather in Brazil in two years time.

But it is only two years away.  At a practical level that means that Australian Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators and other youth ministry leaders will need to start gearing up for Rio pretty soon after they get home from Madrid.

I am also reminded of a passage from a letter that Pope John Paul II wrote to Cardinal Pironio on the occasion of the WYD seminar held in Czestochowa, Poland in 1996.  John Paul II wrote that

World Youth Day is the Church’s Day for youth and with youth.  This idea is not an alternative to ordinary youth ministry, often carried out with great sacrifice and self-denial.  Indeed it intends to actually consolidate this work by offering new encouragement for commitment, objectives which foster ever greater involvement and participation.

It seems to me that there is a very real risk that Australian preparations for WYD in Rio could swamp the ‘ordinary youth ministry’ that ought to be taking place, consuming our time, resources and energies that need to be devoted to the day-to-day mission of evangelising young people.

A second announcement at WYD in Madrid also has significant implications for youth ministry in Australia.  At the Australian Gathering, the Senior Projects officer for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Malcolm Hart, announced that plans were underway for a National Youth Day for Australian Catholics.  The first such gathering is proposed for 2013 also, and is intended to take place every two years after that.

I am excited about a National Youth Day.  I think it gives young Australian Catholics an important opportunity to gather together to celebrate and deepen in our faith.  Like WYD it will give young Australians the opportunity to discover that they are part of something bigger with many other young people in the Church.  It will also be a great celebration and intensification of our unity. And as an Australian event it will be more accessible to far more Australians than an overseas World Youth Day will ever be.  I think it has great potential for building and developing Catholic youth ministry here.

I think that there should always be plenty of young Australian Catholics at every international World Youth Day, and we should in no way abandon our commitment to WYD.  But preparations for those WYDs cannot consume all of a diocese’s, parish’s or a community’s youth ministry resources if Catholic youth ministry is to fulfill its mission in this country.  It is my very real hope that the Church in Australia at every level and young Australian Catholics will get behind a National Youth Day.  But we do need to think very carefully about how and where we devote our time, energy and resources to make sure that WYDs and a National Youth Day are working in concert to support the grass-roots work of youth ministry in Australia.

Posted on August 22, 2011, in Youth Ministry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks Fr Chris, that is so true.
    Bishop Eugene was saying very similar things yesterday about a National Gathering.

    One suggestion was a more collaborative and organized approach to the Australian delegation to WYD. Some groups/dioceses had very blessed and special experiences, others were actually closed out from the main event and others were unprepared for the conditions. A number of the large groups I met became fractured and disillusioned.

    I accept the many challenged that faced Spain and its very harsh to compare with Australia but we did such an wonderful job and a National Day could be done so very well with all our incredibly talented people. The Australian Gathering was a great testament to that and perhaps the highlight for many.

    A another thought would be to incorporate Sport into it some how. The WYD Soccer game last night was excellent, the atmosphere before the game was amazing, it was amazing to hear the crowd chanting in Spanish ¨we are the youth of the Pope!¨ We have some Catholic Sports connections as well as political connections and it would be a great way of bring the faith into the public arena again.

    God bless and thanks for initiating this conversation,
    Fr Dan Benedetti mgl
    Darwin Diocese: Portugal to Madrid Pilgrimage.

  2. Very much agree with your last paragraph.

    I hope that this

    But it is only two years away. At a practical level that means that Australian Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators and other youth ministry leaders will need to start gearing up for Rio pretty soon after they get home from Madrid.

    doesn’t become pressurising poor parishes to start fundraising to send people to Rio before they have a chance to recover from the last round.

  3. Rio! Gosh, maybe I will go to another WYD…

  4. Well said Chris,
    Often though its not even the same people who are preparing for the next WYD, as WYD tends to burn out diocesan youth ministry staff. So the diocese may be revving up, but the people learnt the tricks of the trade they hard way have moved on.
    After Toronto, I think 8 of the 15 employed Diocesan Youth Ministry Co-ordinators left, and it was similar after Cologne. There was a shift after Sydney as well, but wasn’t quite as noticable, as there were people specifically employed to do WYD who then moved into dio roles and a few of the same faces are around the tables.
    So each WYD new people, who have probably been group leaders and have wyd expereince, but not diocesan co-ordination experience, get to make the same mistakes, and not learn from previous diocesan/group experience. So frustrating!

  5. Brisbane group was not ‘fractured’ but did end up with no sighting of the Pope or views of the Mass. My son, for one, was rather disillusioned at the (lack of) organisation. No consideration seemed to be given to Australians as the previous hosts – disappointing.
    My personal gripe is the amount of unnecessary money that is being spent on these occasions. Does each bishop really have to have a specially designed chasubles (were they chasubles or ponchos?) and matching umbrella? I believe it would have been so much more spectacular if each bishop had worn his own. Consideration could have been made to the economic times, not only in Europe

  1. Pingback: WYD Rio in 2 Years? A Couple of Things to Think About (via Seeing Swans at Night) « A secular priest

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