Centro San Lorenzo Commemorates 29 Years

John Paul II Established Youth Center

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, MARCH 23, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Centro San Lorenzo International Centre for Youth welcomed the relics of St. Claude de la Colombiere and St. Margaret Mary of Alacoque this Friday to commemorate 29 years since its founding.

Pilgrims visiting the CSL this week had the opportunity to venerate the relics of these two saints, as well as the Original World Youth Day Cross which is housed in the chapel next to the altar. The week concluded with their regular program of Adoration, Rosary, and Holy Mass, followed by a special trip to Campo dei Fiori for evangelization and prayer.  Because the actual anniversary of the CSL falls during Lent of this year, the official celebrations have been postponed until later next month.

Evangelization

With the theme of is at the heart of the CSL's mission, the team therefore felt that it was fitting to incorporate evangelization into its anniversary commemoration. The CSL team carried the relics and the WYD Cross out into the City of Rome to evangelize, first on Thursday to the Basilica of St. Agnes in Agony and Piazza Navona, then on Friday to the church San Lorenzo in Damaso and the nearby Campo dei Fiori.

"The World Youth Day Cross," said Bernard Marusic, director of the CSL, "certainly is a big head-turner when we're out in the Piazza, and it gives us a point of introduction in order to speak to the people that are there. But it also reminds us why we are there as well. In order to deliver that message of hope and salvation that comes from the Cross of Christ."

St. Margaret Mary Alacocque and St. Claude de la Colombiere

The choice to venerate the relics of St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude at the CSL was not incidental; both of these saints, indeed, have their own relevance to the history of the youth center. St. Margaret Mary was a religious sister who was graced with the apparitions of the Merciful Heart of Christ. Her spiritual father and confessor, St. Claude, was a Jesuit priest who had originally been sent to Paray Le Monial in France, where the apparitions were taking place, to investigate their validity. Their link to the CSL comes via the Emmanuel Community, to which the running youth center has been entrusted. The Community, which is strong ties to Paray Le Monial, therefore enjoys a close relationship with the spirituality of these two saints.

"The graces of the [Emmanuel] Community," explained Marusic, "have had quite an effect with young people as well, by way of the charisms of Adoration, compassion, and evangelization."

"To have the two saints that really promoted this message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to welcome them here at the Centro, through the Emmanuel Community, is a great honor, and really a chance for us, and the young people here, to dive further into that mystery of the Lord's mercy, and the merciful heart of Christ."

The World Youth Day Cross

One of the most defining features of the CSL's history centers around Cross of the Holy Year of Redemption – otherwise known as the World Youth Day Cross – which resides year round at the youth center. The CSL itself, which was inaugurated by Blessed John Paul II in 1983, has been home to the WYD Cross since 1984 at the conclusion of the Holy Year of Redemption, when the late pontiff entrusted the cross to the youth of the world as represented by the young people of the CSL. At the conclusion of 1985, which was the United Nations Year for the Youth, John Paul II declared Palm Sunday, 1986, the first World Youth Day which was held in Rome, followed by the 1987 WYD in Buenos Aires, the first to take place abroad.

"It's a great honor," Marusic concluded, "to carry that tradition, that close link that the Centro has with the World Youth Day, which really began with the Cross. It's twofold: it's to share the joy of young people the joy of the international flavor of the Centro and World Youth Day, but at the heart of it to know that the Cross is what unites us, and it’s really that message that comes from the love of the Cross of Christ that we're giving to the young people of the world."