World Youth Day & Catechesis


Greetings my brothers and sisters,
This month the Church is celebrating the World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, from August 1-6. Several
young people from our communities in California are taking part (perhaps you are one of them!). You
might think it odd to refer to the event as “Youth Day” when in fact it is for several days. The reason for
this is that the original one was in fact a day and was held in Rome by St. Pope John Paul II. His desire
was to have the youth of the world come to him so he could encourage them to remain steadfast in
their journey of faith and to know of his prayers and support for them, particularly in hearing and
answering the call of the Lord. This day is still held in Rome but every two or three years it is “taken on
the road” to another part of the world and the Pope goes himself to the place chosen. The motive is still
the same: to support and encourage youth to live out their Catholic faith joyfully and faithfully, each in
his/her own vocation.

My first World Youth Day experience was in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. I have since been to three
others: Madrid, Spain 2011, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2013, Krakow, Poland 2016. Each of them was a
unique experience because of the different locales and the different themes. However, they each
followed a similar organizational pattern. The final two days were always on the weekend and were the
highlight of the pilgrimage: the Saturday vigil with the Holy Father concluding with Adoration of the
Blessed Sacrament and Benediction and the Sunday morning mass with His Holiness. One aspect of the
World Youth Day which I had not known about beforehand was the catechesis given over the three days
prior to this weekend. I had not realized that a major element of World Youth Day was to assist the
young people to not only experience their faith in worship and fellowship but also to study it and know
it better.

Each day the catechesis is offered at various sites throughout the WYD site, in the various languages of
the youth. Usually it is led by a bishop, which is appropriate since they are meant to be the first teachers
of the faith. It was my experience that many of the youth truly appreciated this effort to help them
know and understand better the faith they had received and which they are meant to pass on. Certainly,
such knowledge is also necessary if one is to discover and live out one’s personal vocation in the Church.
As an Oblate of St. Joseph, I was especially gratified to see the catechetical effort being made as this is
an apostolic charism which comes directly from the founder, St. Joseph Marello. In fact, the first ministry
the Oblates of St. Joseph did in the city of Asti, with the participation of Fr. Marello himself, was to offer
night catechism classes to young adult workers. As St. Joseph had helped to raise Jesus in the knowledge
of his faith so the OSJ are called to do with the young people entrusted to their care.

Given the great amount of confusion and falsehoods being thrust upon our youth today, this
catechetical effort is even more urgent. Certainly, our youth need to experience the presence of the
Lord Jesus in worship and fellowship and to serve those in need. However, this needs to be nourished
and supported by a correct understanding and appreciation of the truth that has been revealed to us by
God the Father through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Each vocation in the Church
involves some aspect of passing on the faith we have received. Since we cannot pass on what we do not
know, then we must also study and deepen our knowledge of the faith. Reading the Catechism of the
Catholic Church is a great was to do this and I would encourage all to do this, even on a daily basis.
St. Joseph, teacher of the child Jesus, pray for us. St. Joseph Marello, patron of youth, pray for us.

Fr. Brian, OSJ