At a recent gathering discussing preparations for World Youth Day in Krakow, a coordinator for the event emphasized how each year many youths receive the courage to answer their vocational call. “Year after year, the first thing we’ve seen is vocations. There are a lot of people who feel the call to serve the Church at this gathering,” Paul Jarzembowski expressed during an April 10 interview with CNA. “Perhaps it’s the call of the Holy Father, perhaps it’s that community of seeing the larger Church but it definitely gives people strength to move into a life of service either as a priest or religious or a lay minister, or simply as just an active, engaged Catholic in the world.” Paul Jarzembowski, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops, was invited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to come to Rome and participate in the April 10 — 13 meeting discussing the upcoming World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016. Composed of those in charge of the pastoral care of youth from around the world, the gathering marked the first international meeting to the Krakow encounter, and drew 250 delegates from the Episcopal conferences of around 90 countries and 45 Catholic communities, associations and youth movements, as well as all the local organizational committees for Rio de Janeiro 2013 and Krakow 2016. Going on, Jarzembowski expressed that among other fruits of World Youth Day in the U.S. is an “increased ministry to young people.” “I hope that,” he continued, “especially with the pontificate of Pope Francis, an increased attention to the unchurched, to the inactive, to the disenfranchised from our faith” is given, and that the experience also provides “the active Catholics the skills to be new evangelists, and gives the young people that are more distant from the Church a reason for hope.” Jarzembowski, who spoke during the conference on the impact of World Youth Day in the U.S., highlighted in his talk three key areas of impact which are already bearing fruit in the lives of the youth. These are the areas of evangelization, social media and “Papal ‘Fever,’” he noted, lauding the impact the international gathering has had on the collage-aged youth, as well as how the event has seen an increased attendance from Hispanic youth, which has enabled dioceses to broaden their outreach to their Hispanic populations. Social media, the youth coordinator explained, allowed many who were unable to go WYD in Rio the opportunity to participate from home, observing that technology “allows live dialogue between those groups, making WYD an even more universal or ‘catholic’ in its approach and ministry to young people.” The Pope’s famous words to the youth in Rio to “Go make a mess, go make some noise” and his call to “be revolutionaries and swim against the tide” and to “not water down the faith” have sparked interest all across the world, Jarzembowski stated, as well as his visit to the favela, poor town, during the visit. Following the Rio gathering many have followed the Bishop of Rome more closely, the youth coordinator highlighted, pointing out how since then Pope Francis has been on the cover of both Time magazine as their “Person of the Year,” as well as Rolling Stone. Many, he added, are now paying more attention to the faith because in Pope Francis’ actions they “feel a sense of love, compassion, and forgiveness exuding from the Church, led by the Holy Father.” Expressing his expectations for the international event in Krakow, Jarzembowski expressed that “We hope to bring about 30 thousand young people from the United States,” and “more are welcome.” “We also hope that when the pilgrims do come to Krakow that they have an opportunity to meet one anther from across the country, across the English speaking world, and of course we want them to meet people from all over the world.” Emphasizing the importance of being well-prepared for the event, Jarzembowski stated that “work is already starting to ramp up,” and that “Part of the work that we’re doing is to help the pilgrims not only learn how to prepare for this event,” but also how “they follow up from it.” “So, we have to help our pilgrims not only prepare for the journey but to come off the journey in a way that points that toward something.” Announced by the Holy See in November, the 2016 WYD encounter, slated to occur July 25 — Aug. 1, will center it’s theme on the Beatitude “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” Leading up to gathering in Poland, the 2014 WYD will focus on the theme “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” which will be followed in 2015 by the theme “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
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