by Mary J. McClusky
July 3, 2008
There are just days to go until hundreds of thousands of youth from all over the world descend upon Sydney, Australia for World Youth Day 2008. This year's event includes five days of prayer, concerts, Eucharistic adoration, and catechetical sessions led by bishops, as well as several prayer events with the Holy Father. Pope Benedict himself chose Acts 1:8 as the theme: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.'The Holy Father recognizes the importance of the vibrant faith of young Catholics as a treasured resource of the Church. We also need to recognize that our pro-life and chastity efforts should involve and engage this youthful audience, who are called by the Holy Spirit to be Christ-filled witnesses to the world.
Inspired by this opportunity, the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities will invite these young pilgrims to be witnesses to the dignity of life and sexuality by helping shape and develop a new pro-life youth web site. The web site will be officially unveiled at World Youth Day, where staff will give away two hundred thousand wristbands promoting the site. Pilgrims will be encouraged to register on the site and share their stories and experiences from their own lives, as well as offer constructive feedback on the web site's features, with prizes given to the best submissions. Involving the youth, using their language, and gaining their valuable feedback are just a few ways to make sure that pro-life efforts resonate with a young -- and often hard-to-impress-- audience.
The Pro-Life Secretariat will also sponsor an exhibit booth at the World Youth Day Vocations Expo. Along with the wristbands, they will pass out educational materials and posters from the Respect Life Program that begins on Respect Life Sunday, October 5, 2008.
The booth will be co-sponsored by the Sisters of Life, who will unveil another unique approach to reach youth with the pro-life message. For the first time ever, there will be a location designated solely for catechesis and evangelization on human life and love.
This location, called the "Love and Life Site" will provide three outreach components: prayer, catecheses and a Youth Fest in the afternoons and evenings of July 16-18. The Youth Fest will feature speakers, music and film events. All young pilgrims are invited to encounter Christ in prayer, form their hearts and minds in the truths of the faith, and respond to the call to love. Called a "microcosm of the culture of life," the venue is co-hosted by the Knights of Columbus Collegians, and the John Paul II Institutes Internationally. For more information, see www.lovelifelink.org
These World Youth Day events are just some examples of how to engage youth in becoming witnesses of the awesome truth about the dignity of the human person and the beauty and goodness of human love. Through a personal experience with Christ and His teachings on life and love, we pray that more young people will be empowered to think critically and act decisively and become convincing witnesses to the Gospel of Life.
Mary (Jaminet) McClusky is Special Project Coordinator at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities go to www.usccb.org/prolife.