Quite often I have said that the preparation of World Youth Day week inSydneyand the Days in the Eparchy in July 2008 are not just about the event itself. In fact it is about the process of preparation for the events.
This gives our young people and community a chance to work together on a very challenging project and to succeed at it. The preparation then becomes a process of developing new leaders and the Christian faithful for the next ten, twenty and even thirty years in our Eparchy. It is really about our very existence and future.
World Youth Day (WYD) gives us the fundamental basis for this process. The theme of WYD is “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Act1:8). As we have already seen by the events of the coming of the WYD Cross and Icon to our parishes, the Holy Spirit has been present in each parish which has received the Cross and Icon. They can relate very powerful moments which were shared by those present. There were genuine moments when you could say that the Holy Spirit was very active.
Pope Benedict reminds us inAustraliaof the words of Jesus, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13, 34). These words are important for us in the Ukrainian community as well. World Youth Day is about learning to love one another. There are so many people around us whom we should learn to love better. Our young people must accept the challenge to see Jesus in all our neighbours, those in our families, parishes, neighbourhoods and in other churches as well as those in other countries.
In every parish there must be a program to prepare our youth for WYD. There is more to it than giving our visitors a place to sleep and something to eat. We must open our hearts and souls to the Holy Spirit. Spiritually we have to prepare ourselves to love one another; to see the hand of God in life itself.
World Youth Day will give, and has already given, us an opportunity to love those in other churches who are not united with us. Our future will be brighter if we have very good relationships with churches who may not understand us or who have even worked against us in the past. Jesus expects something better from us.
The process of preparations for WYD and the Days in the Eparchy gives us a chance to be evangelised even though it may not seem that it is happening.
I am especially pleased about two developments in our Eparchy. One is the effort of the young people inPerthwho have taken WYD very seriously, have bought a bus and are preparing it to come to Melbourne and Sydney by road. This very process will require not only practical knowledge but also God’s presence and blessings. Their plan to donate the bus to the Ukrainian community after the completion of the WYD events once again shows a spiritual vision which comes from the Holy Spirit.
I am also excited about another project – the writing of a new Divine Liturgy which will be sung by our joint choirs at WYD. More has to be said about this project later, but it certainly is new and innovative.
Let us all pray for our future; let us pray for the success of World Youth Day 2008.