ROME, JAN. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The key elements of World Youth Day were the Pope’s presence, the experience of faith and love, and the numerous crowds of young people, says the Australian bishops’ conference president.
Archbishop Philip Wilson said this in a presentation given to seminarians, postgraduate students and faculty at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, the conference reported.
He spoke about World Youth Day in Sydney, saying that it was “an extraordinary experience for all who took part.”
The prelate pointed out some factors that contributed to its success: “There is a faith experience within a community of prayer. There is fun and a positive experience of our common humanity.
“One of the results is that lots of people fall in love. They then form deeply Christian Catholic homes. These then take root in our local Church.”
The archbishop noted the increase in priestly vocations after the youth gathering, though he pointed out that this is not the only way to measure success.
He explained: “The measure is a spike in the experience of faith in the lives of those who go. There is space for the Lord to act. It is an opportunity to come together and experience a common faith — to meet those who believe what I believe.
“The media give a message that if you believe you are isolated. WYD counters this by showing that there are people who believe.
“It is an opportunity to deepen the experience. Young people need an experience of fun and the joy of coming together in the ordinary aspects of life and to enjoy being alive.”
Archbishop Wilson asserted that the Pope’s presence with the youth is a key element of success.
He underlined the overall effect on the Australian dioceses: “Communities were generous in their hospitality and because of their willingness to be open and generous they received a lot in return.”
The prelate concluded by exhorting his audience to minister to youth by meeting them where they are at.
He pointed out: “If we are to engage with young people we have to enter into dialogue. […] There has to be a willingness to share — they are wanting to share the deepest reality in their lives.
“We have to understand the culture of young people so as to be able to dialogue. We have to understand their lives — you have to be a student of culture if you are to work as a priest.”