For the Pilgrims and their Families of the World Youth Day
Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne,
on Saturday, 6th July, 2002, at 2.30pm
My dear young Friends,
I rejoice to be with you and your families as we prepare for our great pilgrimage to be with the Holy Father at the World Youth Day in Toronto. We will welcome the Holy Father on Thursday, 25th July. This will be during three days of catechesis and preparation on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the great vigil and celebration on the evening of Saturday, 27th July, and the morning Mass on Sunday, 28th July. I am delighted to be with you, whether those who will join Bishop Deakin in going direct to Toronto or those who have the leisure of a longer time in Guadalupe and Toronto and Lake Couchiching.
As we celebrate this Mass asking Mary, the Mother of the Church, to be with us, let us ask that we will grow in love and hope as we remember our weakness and yet the gifts which he gives us.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Mary instructed the servants at table to fill up the water vats, which would be later changed into wine and the words she used were, "Do whatever he tells you."
Ever since 1986 with the first meeting in St Peter's Square, a tradition of world gatherings every second year was a response to an initiative of young people themselves.
A World Youth Day seeks to make the person of Jesus the centre of the faith and life of every young person so that he will be a constant point of reference and the inspiration of every initiative that we undertake.
For this reason we take to the roads of the world. In young people the Church sees herself and her mission to people. She faces the challenges of the future and she is aware that people need to feel enlivened in the spirit. Bridges of brotherhood and hope are built.
It is significant that the World Youth Days have not just been conventional gatherings but providential events, occasions for young people to profess and proclaim faith in Christ with ever greater joy.
As young people come together they are able to discuss their greatest hopes, experience the Church as one and make their commitment to the urgent task of sharing Christ with others. In doing so, as the Pope says, they join hands forming an immense circle of friendship, uniting in faith in the risen Lord all the different races, nations, cultures and experiences.
World Youth Day is the Church's Day for youth and with youth. It offers new encouragement for commitment. It helps young people to feel that there are so many others who are fired with the same ideals.
When we go to Toronto we will be invited to come on the path of conversion of Christ. We will be nourished with the Word of God. We will be helped by prayer. Communication and dialogue will challenge us. A Youth Day offers a young person a vivid experience of faith and communion, which will help the young person to face the profound questions of life and to responsibly assume his or her place in society and in the Church community.
Young people's joyous and spontaneous love for the Church has always been touching for the Holy Father. The readiness to bear suffering for the Gospel, to overcome obstacles, to face the world tormented by despair, cynicism and conflict and yet to discover with enthusiasm and exuberance that Jesus is the light of the world.
As young people we want to find the meaning and fullness of life. Jesus himself tells us that we are salt of the earth and light of the world. The same Jesus who said 'let light shine out of darkness' reminds us that he is with us.
Above all in World Youth Day each of us is invited to a new personal encounter with Christ, which enables us to see life in a new light, to set us on the right path and send us out to be his witnesses. The Pope says that this new way of looking at the world and at people, which comes to us from him, leads us more deeply into the mystery of faith, which is not just a collection of theoretical statements to be accepted and approved by the mind, but an experience to be had of truth to be lived, the salt and light of all reality.
I thank you for your courage and readiness to be part of this great experience, which I undertake with enthusiasm and into which I too advance with hope. Today then is a day of enthusiasm, of outreach from ourselves to the wonders that God alone will show us. Let us go forward in courage and hope, accompanied by the prayers and love of our parents, led by the light of Christ and the prayers and motherly intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Church.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.