World Youth Day showed anew the beautiful young Church we all long for,” said Bishop Grzegorz Suchodolski, Chairman of the Council for Youth Pastoral Care of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, during a press conference summarizing World Youth Day in Lisbon, held at the Polish Episcopate Secretariat on September 12.
Bishop Suchodolski admitted that World Youth Day in Lisbon took place at a time that was not easy. “These difficulties were because the pandemic caused the World Youth Day originally scheduled for 2022 to be delayed a full year in the calendar of pastoral work with young people. Thus, four and a half years had passed since WYD in Panama, which meant that an entire generation of high school youth was deprived of the opportunity to participate in WYD. Polish youth had to be explained anew what this event is,” he noted.
The Polish Bishops’ Conference Council for Youth Pastoral Care Chairman stressed that “World Youth Day showed anew the beautiful young Church that we all long for. This event became a guiding spark for the youth’s presence and experience of the universal Church.”
Bishop Suchodolski noted that “the Holy Spirit was watching over all this because the Holy Spirit watches over the Church. What we experienced in Lisbon was the most beautiful catechesis about the Church; catechesis in practice, within the framework of the Pastoral Year, lived under the motto ‘I believe in the Church of Christ.’”
Bishop Suchodolski stressed that the essence of the meeting was building a relationship with Jesus Christ. “The most important thing about WYD was to guide young people to Jesus: at the Eucharist, at the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, at catechesis dedicated to Mary preached in thirty languages,” he said. He added that 40,000 people benefited from the sacrament of penance at the Field of Grace.
Fr. Tomasz Koprianiuk, director of the WYD National Organizing Office, noted that about 30,000 young people from Poland attended the meeting in Lisbon. Additionally, direct preparations in Poland had been underway since last September. “The idea was born to create a space for Poles from both the country and abroad to gather for an entire week, not just one day. We called this project’ Poland Lisbon.’ Everything worked out very well. We started on July 1 with the first concert, which many young people attended. Every day, the stage hosted various events, including concerts, meetings with fascinating individuals, and catechesis. There were also two Eucharist celebrations,” he stressed.
Fr. Koprianiuk explained that next to the stage was an exhibition with exhibits about Poland’s spiritual heritage and helping Ukraine, the Ulma Family, and Fr. Vincent Frelichowski, among others. Guests were invited to a studio that also showed daily reports from the dioceses.
Fr. Koprianiuk estimated that about 45,000 young people participated in the “Poland Lisbon” project. A multitude of volunteers were also present, including about 600 from Poland.
Fr. Andrzej Sochal, the WYD National Organizing Office advisor for the relations with the institutions supporting, noted that World Youth Day is not just a concern for the Church in Poland but also for our country to maintain a positive image on the international stage.
Fr. Sochal acknowledged that almost 40 entities have received targeted grants, donations from state-owned company foundations, partnership agreements, rental agreements, and in-kind contributions for specific projects.
Magdalena Sierka, the WYD National Organizing Office spokeswoman, admitted that many participants attended WYD in Lisbon, mainly due to promotional activities since September. “We reported on the preparations of various groups in the dioceses. We undertook many activities informing people about what would happen in ‘Polish Lisbon,” she said.
Magdalena Sierka estimated that from July 24 to August 6, the Facebook profile was visited by about 100,000 people and almost 14,000 on Instagram. “We also conducted live broadcasts on YouTube for those who could not come to Lisbon,” she noted.
Iwona Olszewska-Król, responsible for implementing the project “Polonia and Poles Abroad,” in which the National Organizing Office joined at the request of the Prime Minister’s Office, spoke about the project’s goals. “The project was addressed to young people born abroad or who moved abroad with their parents. The youth gather at the Polish Catholic Missions,” she said. She added that about 300 participants could benefit from the project.
“Our task was to enable Polish youth from abroad to participate in World Youth Day. A guide in Polish was prepared for them. One of the main priorities of this project was to encourage the use of the Polish language. In turn, compatriots from Poland showed them how beautiful community life is,” Iwona Olszewska-Król stressed.
Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Translated by Sr. Amata Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference