World Youth Day officially opened today. I just saw an article in the current issue of The Catholic Leader, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia, that discusses WYD from the perspective of vocations.
The August 16-21 celebration in Madrid is the first international youth gathering to feature a special papal meeting with religious women under the age of 35. About 1,500 sisters will meet with the Pope on August 19.
The next morning, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to celebrate Mass with about 4,000 seminarians.
The gatherings, according to Archbishop Joseph Tobin, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, are important for those considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, as well as for those who already have embarked on their journey toward vows or ordination.
When the archbishop was superior of the Redemptorists, he said, a young member of the order told him what a similar youth gathering meant to him.
“He said for the first time in his young life as a Redemptorist priest he was in a room with other Redemptorists who have hair, and it’s not gray,” the 59-year-old archbishop said.
As for claims that World Youth Day is a seedbed for vocations, “I admit I was a little sceptical some years ago about whether it was a flash in the pan, and how do you carry it forth with some energy,” he said.
But studies have shown a significant portion of young men and women entering religious life cite the international event as an experience that contributed to their vocations. Continue reading WYD and Vocations