An estimated 70 thousand young boys and girls are descending on St Peter’s Square this weekend for the first in a series of ‘great events’ with the Holy Father organized for the Year of Faith by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
On Saturday and Sunday those young boys and girls who have been confirmed in their faith or are about to be confirmed will gather in St Peter’s from all over the world together with Pope Francis, while next weekend it will be the turn of confraternities.
New Jersey native Fr. Eugene Sylva is the English language official at the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization. Speaking to Emer McCarthy he outlined some of the other ‘great events’ in store for the rest of the Year of Faith and the Council’s work in promoting the New Evangelization:
In a press briefing earlier this week, Council President, Archbishop Rhino Fisichella explained that the common denominator of the events, which will take place in Rome with the Holy Father, will be “of highlighting pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter. That is why, the day before, the participants will take part in a symbolic procession from the obelisk in St. Peter's Square to the tomb of the Apostle where they will pray the Creed. Along the way there will be a brief catechesis to recall the significance of the places that we find ourselves at and their historic meaning for the faith.”
The first event will take place this 27-28 April and will be dedicated to all those who have received or who will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. “Already more than 70,000 youth, accompanied by their catechists and priests, have signed up. This presence shows the enthusiasm with which they have joined in the initiative and the great turn-out that we should expect.”
For the first time, Pope Francis will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on 44 youth from around the world, symbolically representing the entire Church. “They are youth,” the archbishop said, “ who show the face of the Church there where people are living and suffering, to give all hope and certainty for the future.” But there will not just be youth in attendance since there is no uniformity on the age at which to receive the Sacrament and the ages of the confirmands who are coming stretches from 11 to 55.
The second important event, which over 50,000 persons have already signed up for, will take place from 3 to 5 May and will be dedicated to popular piety. The Confraternities, particularly from the countries where the tradition is strongest, will give witness to the different local traditions that have resulted from a religiosity that has been expressed through the centuries with initiatives and works of art that have lasted to this day. The event's culminating moment will be Mass celebrated by the Pope on Sunday at 10:00am in St. Peter's Square.
It will be “a moment of faith,” the prelate concluded, “that finds, in the simplicity of the expressions of popular piety, its most deep-rooted core in our people who live these signs uninterruptedly as a reminder of the faith of previous generations and as a tradition that should be witnessed to with courage and enthusiasm.”