Celebrating Families, Youth in Dublin

Bishop Testifies to the Vitality of Young Participants of Congress

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By Ann Schneible

DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- It is by remaining attentive to the joy and openness to the Gospel of young people that the Church will find renewal, says Bishop Mark Davies.

Bishop of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, Bishop Davies offered catechetical reflections to a gathering of nearly 1,000 young people at a youth event hosted Monday evening by the Taize community, as one of the events for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress currently under way in Dublin. He is also leading a group of English pilgrims to Ireland for the Congress.

The bishop spoke with ZENIT about his hopes for the congress in helping to transmit the Good News to young people and their families.

ZENIT: You gave a catechetical teaching to the young people the other evening at an event hosted by the Taize community. What sort of energy did you receive from the youth who participated?

Bishop Davies: The energy was not only the joy and enthusiasm, which is a special gift of youth that Blessed John Paul II used to often refer to. But what I noticed [the other night] is the attentiveness, which is a true spirit of openness, in those hundreds of young people that came to the catechesis. [I noticed] also their desire [not only] to hear, and to listen, to receive what was a catechesis and a deepening of their understanding of the faith, but also [their openness to receiving] the challenge of the faith. They were very open to that, and that particularly struck me last night at the Youth Space of this congress.

ZENIT: Comparisons have been made between this initiative and World Youth Day as inspired by John Paul II. How does this event differ, especially in regard to the focus on the Eucharist?

Bishop Davies: [The other night], I spoke to the young people about that promise which the Holy Father had asked for seven years ago in Cologne: that they would promise within their own hearts to remain faithful to the Sunday Mass in the face of all difficulty and distraction.

My hope is very much that this congress can allow that message and that new commitment amongst young people to rise here in our island, and of course, with all the international connections of a Eucharistic Congress.

ZENIT: The main theme of Tuesday this week is the family. What are some of the main challenges in bringing renewal to the family, especially in directing the family, above all the children, in developing a closer devotion to the Eucharist?

Bishop Davies: I think that’s very much to encourage the lead which parents to do give, because I remember my own parents, in the days of my childhood and infancy, so clearly pointing out to me the Real Presence for which we gather at Mass, the visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Church. I think if we can give that encouragement this week to parents, to [help them] in a very simple and direct way, to share that faith and prayer with their children.

But I think, also, for young people, that they are often rediscovering the faith that sometimes was lost in the generation before them. And I think young people themselves will have a clear lead within the setting of their families to help their families, and perhaps older members of their family, to rediscover the wonder of that faith again.

ZENIT: You are here with a pilgrimage group from England. What does this Eucharistic Congress have to offer for the Catholic Church in England, especially in regards to the idea of the family?

Bishop Davies: I think that this is a great witness here in the Congress... What we want to encourage is the clarity of that witness amongst the Catholic people of England that you mentioned, but also in many parts of the Western world, where that clear witness is needed, both in the example which we give as Catholics, but also in the willingness to articulate the good news of marriage as the foundation of the family. Because in many parts of the Western world – including my own country – that is something which is being threatened and we need to stand up, now, for marriage, and we need to be ready to speak for marriage as well. I hope the congress will give encouragement in that.