While over 3.5 million youth gathered for the Closing Mass of the World Youth Day in Copacabana Beach, youth in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo in Syria gathered to celebrate with their peers in spirit.
According to Fides News Agency, 850 Syrian youth gathered at the Youth Center George in the district of al-Sabeel, for a day of reflection, prayer, discussion and entertainment. The event was organized by the Salesian Fathers.
Four Catholic bishops took part in the day, celebrating Mass and dividing the tasks in the various moments of reflection and prayer. The event ended with the consecration of the young people of Syria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Armenian Catholic Bishop Boutros Marayati described his emotion and shared experience with the young people of Aleppo to Fides. “I was amazed to see so many young people without fear, in a city scarred by war,” he said.
“They all bore witness to a certain inner peace that is a gift of the Lord. The perception of the tenderness of Jesus for each of them has strengthened, and many are beginning to think about consecrating themselves to the Lord in prayer and in service of others. We made the most of the words that Francis Pope had said in the early days of World Youth Day, with his call not to allow anyone to steal hope. Those words lit up our whole day.”
The description of the Armenian Catholic Bishop dwelled at length on the miracle of inner peace which he perceived in the young Christians of Aleppo “They tried to contact the young people in Rio through Skype” Bishop Marayati said, “but the internet lines were not working.”
“The atmosphere was relaxed, boys and girls did not seem taken from the anguish of feeling under siege or having to fear the future as Christians. Despite the high number of participants in the meeting, there was no protective measure. And thank God, everything went well.”