Launch of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral message ‘Building Faith in Young People’ by Bishop Donal McKeown, marking the 20th World Youth Day
9 August 2005
Launch of the Catholic Bishops’ pastoral message
Building Faith in Young People
by Bishop Donal McKeown, marking 20th World Youth Day
August 9th 2005 at 7:30pm, Ferry Port, North Wall, Dublin.
Thank you for coming here this evening for the launch of this message. The
intended audience is not just young people but all those who are concerned
about the welfare and future of our young generation. It is appropriate that
the Message is formally launched in the presence of young people on their
way to Cologne. After all these young people are not passive recipients of a
ministry from their elders and betters, but people on a journey of adventure
and discovery who ask for
* space to be themselves,
* a dream to accompany them on the journey, and
* a community that will have faith in their potential for great, good and
And this document was written after conversations with young people about what
they would like to hear the Church say about the Good News.
These young people – and hundreds of thousands of others that will come to
Cologne over the next ten days – don’t see themselves as the Church of the future,
but as part of the Church of the present. They ask not to be patronised but to
be taken seriously in their searching for meaning and hope. Sometimes our culture
seems to tell them little about themselves other than that they are consumers to
be titillated and amused. This Message seeks to remind people of all ages that
we have a dignity far beyond what we eat, drink, have and wear, that being is
more important than doing, that the healing of the human heart will not come
cheaply. It reminds us that we all need solid food for the journey and that
candyfloss will not give us much strength.
The Bishops are conscious that Ireland, North and South, has changed in so many
ways in the last two decades. That means that Church structures have to change
if we are to give people a chance to hear the Gospel. If they do not hear it,
they will not be able to believe. We cannot rely on old structures in a new age.
This Message is intended as a word of encouragement to young people who are
seeking for truth and integrity – and to all those generous adults who share
their journey. It is intended to acknowledge what is already being done by some
many dedicated people, and to recognise our frailties as Church. We hope that
it will help all of us to find new ways forward if we are to build up young
people’s faith in themselves and as well as their faith in a God who has faith
This journey to Cologne is not an end in itself. This Message is not an end in
itself. The Church is not an end in itself. We claim to be followers of Jesus
who came not to be served but to serve. In a world of much beauty and much fear,
there is much need of hope – and the message of Jesus whom we worship is that
faith is not a fantasy, that hope is available and love is possible.
These young people are just representatives of the many who want to create a world
where starvation and violence are not the only things to dominate the news. As
Church leaders, we call on all involved in the life of the country to work so
that peace, justice and solidarity can flourish for all who live on this island.
We will do our part to talk of Good News and to be a sign of that Good News.
Together, we can all make this a safer and happier country at least for the
children of these young people to grow up in.
The first World Youth Day was the idea of Pope John Paul II. This evening we
set off in hope to this 20th World Youth Day to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.
We trust that it will be a time of celebration, surprises and grace. And we
pray that this message from the Irish Bishops can contribute to the building
of faith communities in this country that will support these young people in
the search for truth, beauty and God.
Notes for Editors
* Bishop Donal McKeown is Auxiliary Bishop for Down and Connor and is Chair
of the Bishops’ Commission on Vocations and Pastoral Outreach to Youth and
* See www.catholiccommunications.ie for a special web feature on World
Youth Day 2005.
* The atmosphere for World Youth Day events is festive and focuses on prayer
and growing in Christian faith. Every day there will be Mass, prayers and teaching
(catechesis)on essential aspects of the Catholic faith as well as music and
* World Youth Day 2005 divides into two phases:
PHASE ONE: August 11th – 16th
‘Days of Encounter’: Irish Catholics will meet other WYD participants and stay
with German families in parishes across the country. Special activities will be
organised daily including Social Action Days, the chance to get involved in
practical hands-on projects.
PHASE TWO: August 16th – 21st Timetable (provisional)
Tuesday August 16th: Arrival of World Youth Day groups in Cologne.
Wednesday August 17th: Catechesis, Mass.
Thursday August 18th: Catechesis.
Mid-day: Arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father will travel down the
Rhine to meet WYD groups at Rheinwiesen wharf. Pope Benedict then travels back
to Cologne via the river and visits Cologne Cathedral.
Friday August 19th: 10.30 am: The Holy Father meets Horst Kohler and at midday
visits Synagogue. WYD Programme: Catechesis. Way of the Cross, World Youth Day
Saturday August 20th: Pope meets civic and political leaders including Gerhard
Schroder. Meeting with Muslim representatives. Pilgrimage to vigil site. The
Pope joins young people for prayer vigil ending at 10.30 pm.
Sunday August 21st: 10.am: Closing Mass with the Pope. 6.45 pm: Pope Benedict XVI
leaves for Rome.
* The highlight this year is that this is the first with Pope Benedict XVI presiding.
This year’s World Youth Day event in Cologne will be attended by a number of Irish
bishops including, Dublin: Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Martin, and Bishop
Raymond Field; Meath: Bishop Michael Smith; Waterford and Lismore: Bishop William Lee;
Raphoe: Bishop Philip Boyce; Kildare and Leighlin: Bishop James Moriarty; Limerick:
Bishop Donal Murray and Down and Connor: Bishop Donal McKeown.
* WYD has become a legacy and living relic of the vision of Pope John Paul II which
was to invite young people to participate in the very heart of the Church. Since
1985 millions of young people have participated in these great events. In 1985 as
part of International Youth Year the Pope invited young people of Italy to meet
with him. Around 500 000 young people turned up, including many from outside of
Italy. Pope John Paul II immediately recognised the potential of such gatherings.
He went on to keep these “appointments” with young people. WYD has since been held
in Denver 1993, Manila 1995, Paris 1997, Rome 2000, and Toronto 2002.
* The programme of WYD is always similar. Depending on costs, young pilgrims arrive
at WYD using a variety of means, bus, boat, car, train or aeroplane! After a huge
opening ceremony, young people have a daily programme consisting of catechesis
sessions, which are talks given by bishops and Cardinals to young people on a
* The theme for this year is taken from the Gospel account of the Magi – “We come
to adore him”. This is followed by Mass. Each afternoon, there is usually a large
urban space where a festival of faith takes place. It consists of a variety music,
dance, meditation, talks, faith opportunities and wares – albeit not under the one
roof. On the Friday there is usually a Way of the Cross and then on the Saturday
the Pope holds a vigil of prayer with young people, followed by an overnight camp
outside and morning Mass.
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)