Year of Youth 2018

John Paul II is for Young People to Discover

Last edited 4th April 2016

John Paul II is for Young People to Discover

During the April "For us and the whole world" conference Bishop Grzegorz Rys will speaking about the need for the young generation to discover the Holy Father Saint Pope John Paul ll, the conference will take place in the Sanctuary in Lagiewniki

Dominika Stoszek: What image of St. John Paul II does the young person have today?

Bp Grzegorz Rys: For the young generation John Paul II is someone to discover. Sometimes trouble occurs because those who speak about the Holy Father usually have an experience of a personal meeting with him. They have something to recall. These memories are full of emotion, but they are difficult to simply pass on. I have the good fortune that a few times in my life I met him and these were important meetings for me.

Who was John Paul II for you as Grzegorz Rys, and as Bishop?

For me as Grzegorz Rys, John Paul II was first of all the Pope. I tried to stay current with everything that he wrote. Later I happened to meet with the Holy Father a few times. Two meetings have sunk deeply into my memory. The first was in 1997 in Zakopane, in Ksi??ówce (the recollection house of the Episcopal Conference of Poland). The Pope came from Cz?stochowa, was very tired. The next day there was supposed to be a Mass, we were all scheduled for it. We went after him – it was striking. He overtook us on the way to the chapel, being tired earlier in the evening. And the second meeting – during the last Holy Mass conducted by the Pope. He spoke with difficulty he spoke, and with difficulty lifted the chalice. This was a harrowing experience – unity of the sacrificer with the Sacrifice.

To what elements from the teaching of John Paul II do you refer to with the meeting with youth? The teaching of John Paul is unprecedented. But it's not about constantly repeating this beautiful cliché: the teaching of John Paul is still current. It is certain that it is, but it is necessary to show what field of teaching we speak about. I was never disappointed when I spoke with young people about the love between a woman and man referring to what the Pope wrote about this subject. This is one area. The second – about work. No one before him taught as he did. One can find a few such topics that are the questions of young people. They find a sensible answer in the teaching of the Pope, and so the Pope is for young people to discover.

Inaugurating his pontificate, John Paul II said to young people: "You are the hope of the Church". Are young people aware of this today?

They don't have to be aware - they are the hope of the Church. What is important is that the Pope said this with full realism. Youthfulness has its sins. It's not about idealizing young people, but listening to them when they come, looking for them when they don't come, not being afraid of placing the bar high for them. Although today there's a tendency to demonize young people. I have the impression that in every generation older people have to complain about young people. Those young people grow up and complain about the next generation.

What presently prevents the young person from meeting with Jesus?

If something prevents someone from meeting with Jesus, then there is need to ask oneself: Do we lead young people to a meeting with Him? There is a lot of constant focusing on oneself in the Church. Besides this Christianity is presented from the theoretical side, not depending on the experience of meeting with Jesus, who still wishes to listen to me, accepts me with my sins, makes me a child of God. This is something that needs to be changed.

Bishop Grzegorz Rys – Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Archbishop of the Metropolitan of Krakow, Doctor in Humanities. He ties teaching work with pastoral work, taking part in the life of the Neocatechumenal Way, preaching homilies and retreats. He is involved in ecumenical dialogue. He is the Chairman of the Team for the New Evangelization at the Pastoral Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Poland and the Secretariat of the New Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Krakow.

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