Krakow, Poland, Jul 31, 2016 / 01:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- How can young people prepare for the next World Youth Day, Pope Francis asks? Remember the past, be courageous in the present, and have hope for the future.
The Pope made these impromptu remarks just before catching his departing flight to Rome July 31 during a meeting with the 20,000 volunteers who served at this year's WYD in Krakow. Sunday’s meeting came just hours after the official closing Mass for the international youth event in Krakow’s “Campus Misericordiae,” after which it was announced that the 2019 WYD would take place in the Central American nation of Panama.
Addressing the lively crowd which filled the city’s Tauron Stadium, the Roman Pontiff tossed aside his prepared remark — “five pages . . . a little boring, right?” — and, speaking in his native Spanish, thanked the volunteers for undertaking this “adventure of generosity.” Francis thanked them for the hours of prayer that went into their preparation. “I know that this WYD was prepared with a lot of work, but also a lot of prayer,” he said.
He went on to express his gratitude to the priests, religious, and consecrated men and women who accompanied the young people throughout the event. Addressing the volunteers, Pope Francis told them, “you are the hope of the future.”
However, he clarified that there are some conditions to this status. The first of these conditions, he said, is that of memory: “memory of my people, of my family, my history.” In order to be someone who is the “hope for the future,” one must speak to grandparents, or other elderly people. “Promise me that when you prepare for (WYD) Panama you are going to speak to your grandparents!” he said. “They are the wisdom of the people.”
The second condition, he said, is courage in the present. He cited as an example the testimony given by the brother of Maciej Szymon Ciesla, the WYD graphics designer who died of cancer earlier this month. “This young man is not here today,” but he “has sown hope for the future.”
Pope Francis said he did not know if he would be in Panama, but that Peter — in reference to the first Pope — would be. “And Peter will ask you if you have talked with their grandparents, if you have talked with the elders,” in order to have this memory. He will also ask “if you’ve had the courage and boldness to deal with situations, and have sown seeds for the future.”
“And to Peter, you will give a clear answer — is that clear?” the Pope said, to which the youth replied in a resounding “Yes!” Francis concluded the event with the volunteers by inviting them to pray, each in his own language, the Hail Mary.
The July 27-31 trip to Poland marked Pope Francis’ first visit to the country, and his second WYD since his election to the papacy.