Rome (Italy) On Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020, the 35th World Youth Day is celebrated, the first of three stages of the journey that will lead to the world meeting in Lisbon (Portugal) in 2022. Although this year, due to the pandemic, St. Peter’s Square will be empty and there will be no physical presence of young people at processions and diocesan meetings, technologies allow you keep this appointment.

The Message of Pope Francis that accompanies this day, entitled “Young man, I tell you, arise!” (Lk 7:14), resounds in its relevance with respect to the Coronavirus pandemic, recalling from the title – “Young man, I tell you, arise!” (Lk 7:14) – not to settle in a situation that risks extinguishing enthusiasm and closing in on oneself, as the Pope reminds young people:

“As you can see, the common verb of the three themes is arise.  This expression also assumes the meaning of rise again, awaken to lifeHe then cites the Exhortation Christus Vivit: If you have lost your inner vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism, and your generosity, Jesus stands before you as once He stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of His resurrection He urges you: “Young man, I say to you, arise!(CV 20).

The mandatory directive of staying at home certainly does not allow you to get up and go out to devote yourself to others in the usual forms, but it can become an opportunity to convert your senses, to look at reality with different eyes:  “And my gaze, how is it? (…) How many times today do we happen to be eyewitnesses to many events, without ever experiencing them directly! Sometimes our first reaction is to shoot the scene with our phone, perhaps leaving out the eyes of the people involved”.

In this time we are also witnessing many manifestations of solidarity by young people, who offer themselves to go shopping for those who cannot move, or field their manual and intellectual skills for the production of goods useful for this emergency: “On many occasions you young people show that you know how to be compassionate. Just see how many of you give generously when circumstances require it. There is no disaster, earthquake, flood that does not see groups of young volunteers making themselves available to help. The great mobilization of young people who want to defend creation also bears witness to your ability to hear the cry of the earth.

Sr. Runita Borja, Councilor for Youth Ministry of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, in a letter to the Province Coordinators of Youth Ministry of the world, in view of World Youth Day 2020, desired to share the voice of some young people reflecting on the 17 Objectives of Sustainable Development of Agenda 2030: “Last year, the Sector for Youth Ministry invited the educating communities of the provinces to join the initiative, launched worldwide, to “find an agreed and collective response, shared and responsible for the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change” through the Project ‘Together, we can!’  This project wants to live ‘Laudato sì’ and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” These are reflections that challenge the educating communities – young people, lay people, and FMA – to ‘arise’ and implement changes in their personal and community life.

Mary Help of Christians Province, Spain– Madrid (SPA) invites the young to live the appointment of World Youth Day 2020 through an infographic available on the Web Site of the Province SPA, in which it is possible to access links to the Pope’s Message and the Letter of Sr. Runita Borja.

The Dioceses of Italy will experience the event through their social channels, offering food for thought, online meetings, and other initiatives. Some examples:

– the Archbishop of Turin, Mons. Cesare Nosiglia, will preside over the Via Crucis online on April 4 at 9:00 pm;

– the young people of the Diocese of Novara on April 4th at 9:00 pm will participate in streaming in a prayer vigil with the Bishop Mons. Franco Giulio Brambilla;

– the Diocese of Parma offers young people a moment of entertainment on social networks on April 4 at 9:30 pm;

– the Diocesan Service for Youth Ministry in Piacenza-Bobbio has developed some proposals for youth groups;

– the young people of the Diocese of Cremona will live the Palm Vigil on April 4th starting at 18:00;

– the young people of the Dioceses of Carpi and Modena, at 9:00 pm on April 4, will find a video with a short reflection path;

– the Diocese of Lodi makes available to young people a video on previous WYD and the material for a time of prayer;

– the young people of the Diocese of Milan, between 9:00 pm on April 4 and 9:00 pm on April 5, 2020, will live the “Stand Up Day” in which they are invited, starting from the words of Pope Francis, or the Archbishop Msgr. Mario Delpini, to tell with a post or a story, through the social pages, their way of reacting to negative circumstances and situations.

Esercizi spirituali FMA AlbaniaSome Salesian realities, which in this period had foreseen the Spiritual Exercises for young people, have chosen not to miss the chance to offer young people this opportunity:

The FMA of Albania, Southern Province of Our Lady of Good Counsel (IMR), with the Salesians of Don Bosco proposed to the young people, from 3 to 5 April 2020, two meetings of online Retreats per day starting from the passage of the Gospel of the healing of hemorrhaging woman (Mk 5: 25-34).

Esercizi spirituali MGS MeridionaleThe Salesian Youth Movement of Southern Italy (MGS Don Bosco South) offers young people aged 18 to 30 to carve out 3 days, from 3 to 5 April 2020, suspending normal activities and reserving time and space to experience ‘meeting’ with oneself, with the Lord, and with other young people.

These are proposals, as Pope Francis says at the end of the Message for WYD 2020, that can constitute the spark to rekindle hope in many young people and make them feel protagonists in the Church:

“It is an invitation to open up to a reality that goes far beyond the virtual. This does not mean despising technology, but using it as a means and not as an end. ‘Arise’ also means ‘dream’, ‘risk’, ‘commit yourself to change the world’, rekindle your desires, contemplate the sky, the stars, the world around you. ‘Rise and become what you are!’ Thanks to this message, many sad faces of young people around us will come alive and become much more beautiful than any virtual reality”.


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