By Ann Schneible
ROME, OCTOBER 12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- At the conclusion of Mass for the opening of the Year of Faith in Saint Peter’s Square, six young people, each of them representing a different continent, received from Pope Benedict XVI the same message which Paul VI had delivered to the youth in 1965 at the close of the Second Vatican Council.
Robert Prybyla from the USA and Anna Fsadni from Australia were among those who received the message from the Holy Father on behalf of the youth of the world, along with young people from Brazil, France, the Philippines, and the Congo.
Texas native Robert Prybyla told ZENIT that they felt “blessed to be chosen as some of the representatives of the youth throughout the world to receive the copy of the message from Pope Benedict that was originally given by Pope Paul VI back in the 1960s.”
“I said to him: Holy Father, I represent the youth from the United States, and we send you our love and devotion, and he said ‘Ah, the United States! Keep doing well! Keep doing well over there! I thank you!’ He was just so kind and sweet. It was a moment that will stay with me forever.”
Anna Fsadni from Sydney shared her experience meeting the Holy Father, during which she presented him with a gift on behalf of the youth of the World. “It was really small, just a small rosary ring, but his face lit up. It was beautiful. Everything he does, you can see he does with a sincere love for the people. He loves every person he meets, every person of the Church. You can see that. It’s this sincerity of love.”
“It’s an amazing blessing to receive a copy of the documents on behalf of the youth of the Church,” she said. “I feel really honored that I was asked to receive it on behalf of the youth, because it’s something the youth needs. I look forward to taking back the message to Australia.”
Both Prybyla and Fsadni are students of the Rome-based Emmanuel School of Mission (ESM), a nine-month program which trains young Catholics to be missionaries in their daily lives. During this year’s program, themes relating to the Year of Faith and the Synod on New Evangelization will be incorporated.
For instance, throughout the Year of Faith ESM students will be present nearly every Friday in Saint Peter’s Square with the original World Youth Day Cross to say the rosary, evangelize, and invite people to attend evening Mass at the nearby Centro San Lorenzo International Youth Centre.
Kevin and Helen Wagner, directors of the ESM, explained that the program ties in closely with the themes being addressed in the synod on new evangelization, which is currently taking place in the Vatican.
“Over the last few years,” said Kevin, “we’ve been looking for new ways to evangelize. It’s not necessarily the case that street evangelization, or nights in Churches, or these sorts of things, are ways of meeting every one. The idea is to really be where the people are.”
For instance, he explained, the ESM will be sponsoring a 3-day seminar on internet evangelization next week at the Centro San Lorenzo, which will conclude on Friday with Mass celebrated by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
The mission of the ESM, said co-director Helen Wagner, “ties in very directly with the new evangelization. It really is a product of John Paul II’s call of new evangelization, because we really try to teach the young people that call of evangelizing is not just left to particular individuals higher up in the Church. It is a call for Christians. The formation we provide is to enable these young people to be witnesses in their faith in their daily lives.”