The youth from French-speaking dioceses of Belgium gathered for a special week-end of preparation of the 2016 World Youth Day that will take place in Kraków in Poland. The preparation took place in Wavre from 16 to 17 April 2016. This event was called for by the organisers of the WYD Belgium under the leadership of bishop Jean Kockerols, the auxiliary bishop for Brussels. The week-end of preparation attracted over 300 youth.
There were different elements that constituted this preparation. Firstly, the historical over-view of the WYD: how it began, in which countries it has taken place and under what theme. Concerning the forthcoming WYD in Kraków, there was a youth delegation from Poland who came to tell the Belgian youth about the preparations in Poland and how they were eagerly awaited. They presented also some interesting places to visit while in Poland. In a way, they whetted the appetite of the Belgian youth for the trip in Poland. The preparation concentrated especially on the number of practical aspects of the trip.
The youth during the WYD will not only be able to travel together but they will also live and share moments together. That’s why as part of the preparation each youth chose an area through which he would take part and give service to others, like: singing (choir), cultural animation, guiding and spiritual accompaniment, to mention but just some.
Preparations included short workshops on a couple of different issues such as sexuality, life in Poland, security and some basic vocabulary of the Polish language.
The WYD is an event of meeting with other people that can result in relations that are quite significant. Hence the short workshop meant to prepare the youth for such experience, especially helping them to manage their relations in the right way. The idea was to help them appreciate that the WYD can be an occasion to establish relations that are fruitful and long-lasting. It’s not a moment for libertinage.
Life in Poland
The preparation about life in Poland gave briefly the route that the youth will follow before, during, and after the WYD. It also gave some landmarks that would help each youth find his way when one loses his way. This touched also money matters and transport.
Another workshop was about polish language to enable the youth use at least some basic polish words, especially when they would be in families. The effort to say some words in the local language is a sign of appreciation of the people and their culture. So it will do pleasure to the polish hosting families.
Following the terrorist attacks that have happened, security has remarkably become a major concern. So, a representative of the bus company came to give some practical instructions that will help the group to travel in security. The whole idea is that by respecting the travelling instructions each youth is responsible for his security and that of others. So, it’s the entire group that is responsible for its own security.
Apart from the practical aspects of the journey, the week-end served also as a spiritual preparation of the WYD. The WYD is a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey, and not just a holiday travel with good ambiance. This was done through the conference and the moments of prayer.
In conclusion, I would say this weekend of preparation was indeed necessary given the different practical elements that needed good preparation. It helped also to weave relationships among the Belgian youth so that they can embark on this journey as a family. The week-end managed also to motivate the youth to look forward with great interest to the WYD in Poland.