11 August 2011
To the pilgrims to the World Youth Day in Madrid
Dear Young Pilgrims from Down and Connor,
We greet you as you start on your journey of faith to meet the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and the many other young people of faith at the World Youth Days in Madrid.
As you witness to the rich heritage of the Irish Christian tradition through your prayer and conduct, we trust that in Portugal and Spain you will explore and come to appreciate the vitality of the faith in Jesus Christ shared with your hosts and with the many people you will meet. The World Youth Day is a unique experience of the world wide community that is the Church.
You take part in the World Youth Day at a challenging time for people of faith in Ireland and in other countries. Because of the faults of some, religion is often caricatured as a delusion that seeks to control and dominate people.
Yet the Gospel reveals that Jesus, the Son of God, became man to liberate all human beings. The freedom offered by Jesus Christ does not mean the freedom to do whatever you want. It means liberation from all that limits our ability to choose the good, the true and the beautiful in life. It means freedom from things in our past that can entrap us. It involves openness to the grace of God who wants us to have life and to have it to the full.
The World Youth Day theme is taken from St Paul “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the faith”. We pray that these days of pilgrimage to Porto and Madrid will help you to know Jesus Christ as your friend and your Saviour. Take time to pray, to reflect on the scriptures, to talk to others about your faith and your doubts, to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to participate joyfully in the celebration of the Eucharist.
When you come home, seek out other young people who have high ideals like you. Tell them and others of the joy of faith shared in Madrid. And with the experience of the World Youth Days behind you, continue to grow in appreciation and understanding of the Gospel and of the person of Jesus Christ.
In the face of so much pain and fear, the world desperately needs people of love, hope and faith. We trust that it will be possible to hear of your experiences when you return to Ireland.
Please pray for us and for the Christian community in our diocese as you live the World Youth Day with so many others from across the world.
+ Noel Treanor+ Donal McKeown +Anthony J Farquhar
Notes to Editors
- World Youth Day will take place in Madrid, Spain, from 16 – 21 August 2011. The theme chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day 2011 is “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). In excess of 1,500 Irish pilgrims are expected to travel to Spain to take part in this year’s event which is being hosted in Madrid City. The week-long celebration will include catechesis sessions, music, liturgies, cultural events and an opportunity for pilgrims to meet with other pilgrims from all over the World.
- The highlights of World Youth Day are the prayer vigil and the closing Mass at which Pope Benedict will preside. Both liturgies will take place at Cuatro Vientos Airport, Madrid, on 20 and 21 August. At the closing Mass Pope Benedict will announce the venue to host the gathering of the faithful for the next international World Youth Day.
- A special feature is now available on the Bishops’ Conference website www.catholicbishops.ie for World Youth Day 2011. It includes:
Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Youth Day
An overview of Irish diocesan pilgrimages to Madrid
A video interview with Bishop Donal McKeown. In his video interview Bishop McKeown outlines what World Youth Day is, the relevance of the theme chosen for 2011 and the importance of World Youth Day to the Catholic Church.
Links to live updates from four Irish pilgrims who will travel to World Youth Day
Links to the official World Youth Day website and to the Vatican
- World Youth Day was initiated by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1985. It is celebrated at diocesan level annually, and at a week-long international level every two to three years in different countries. The international level event attracts hundreds of thousands of young people from almost every country on the planet.
- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the Patron Saint of World Youth Day and since his beatification, Pope John Paul II, who started the event, has become its co-patron.
Clare Gilmore, Faith Development Officer for the Diocese of Down and Connor, 0044 (0) 7796144018; Fr Eddie Magee, Diocesan Communications Office for the Diocese of Down and Connor 0044 (0) 78111 44268; and, the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, 00 353 (1) 5053017.