An "Awakening" Seen in Youth Pastoral Care

Says Father M. Wittal of the Emmanuel Community

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COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 18, 2005 ( Father Markus Wittal of the Emmanuel Community wants to evangelize during World Youth Day with music and testimony.

In a preliminary evaluation of the event taking place in his native Germany, the priest said: «We are witnessing a sort of pastoral awakening in the pastoral care of youth, aroused by young people’s thirst to know Christ ever more.»

In the past, Father Wittal composed a musical inspired by Mary that has been very successful in Europe. He has also composed music for Masses as well as religious songs. One of his musical works was performed at World Youth Day 2000 in Rome.

«The fact that WYD is taking place here, and the election of Benedict XVI as Pope, are two providential events that are really setting the German Church on fire,» contended the 38-year-old priest.

He said that this World Youth Day poses a question: «What does it mean to be a Catholic in our days and what does it mean to be an active member of the Church?»

«These questions, written between the lines of the theme ‘We Have Come to Worship Him,’ point to our roots. During the preparations for WYD, I witnessed the effectiveness of discussions between individuals on these arguments, and I have seen great signs of openness,» Father Wittal said.

«The city, and the country in general, seem to believe that this event might open wide many doors at the level of faith and spiritual renewal,» continued the priest.

Visit with seminarians

The Emmanuel Community, of which Father Wittal is a member, was founded in 1972 by Pierre Goursat in France. The Catholic group is leading the prayers in St. Mary’s Church in Lyskirchen during the current World Youth Day.

Father Wittal is in charge of a musical program for the Pope’s visit with Cologne’s seminarians, scheduled this Friday in St. Pantaleon’s Church in Cologne.

That meeting, he said, «shows Pope Benedict’s profound interest in young vocations and his support for those who want to undertake this path, responding with courage to God’s call.»

Meanwhile, Father Wittal is convinced of «the importance of music in prayer, as music is better than any other language to express our identity.»

«On returning home, young people will keep in their hearts and hum the melodies they’ve heard these days, expressing in this way their own faith and Catholic identity,» he added. «Where there is music made by young Catholics, you will see a vibrant parish.»

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