“Young people in Slovakia have gone through significant changes in recent years. The traditional faith is disappearing rapidly, and this pushes in two directions, as regards the development of the situation. On the one hand there is a tendency to de-Christianization, to a life without God and without values. But there is also another direction: the renewal of faith. All considered, the traditional practice of faith based upon custom has been gradually replaced by a very personal relationship with God”: it is the opinion of Father Ondrej Chrvala, Secretary of the Council for Youth and the University of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference. This “intimate relationship of young men and women with the Creator” will benefit from an original source of inspiration and encouragement in the next few days of November, with the pilgrimage of the Cross and the copy of the Icon of the Mother of God, preserved in the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, symbols of the World Youth Days (WYD). To touch Christ and be touched. The cross and icon will arrive in Slovakia from Hungary. The first city to host the symbols of the WYD, November 15, will be Kosice, followed by other 18 cities and towns. “Pope John Paul II wanted the cross to become a sign of God’s love for young people in all corners of the world. We want to realize the idea of this message and proclaim Christ”, said Msgr. Tomas Galis, bishop of Zilina, President of the Council for Youth and the University. For Father Chrvala, “no one can touch the cross of Jesus without being touched. This is our expectation as regards the promotion of spiritual life in our country”. Fr Chrvala further explained to Sir Europe that the pilgrimage of the cross is “a unique opportunity” for the faithful of Slovakia to join the Church and young people around the world. “The cross was touched by young people in every continent, who have entrusted their joys, concerns and hopes to its power,” said Father Chrvala, who expressed the hope that through the “prism of the cross”, also young men and women in Slovakia may find “the open heart of the One who understands us and forgives us”. The message of John Paul II. The upcoming pilgrimage of the WYD Cross and of the icon of the Virgin Mary is closely linked to the message of St. John Paul II, who started the tradition of the World Youth Days many years ago. “That’s why the Cross unites us not only to Jesus Christ, but also to ‘our’ Pope, who visited Slovakia three times during his pontificate”, said Father Chrvala. All the sites where young people have prayed in front of the Cross are engraved in its history and become a living part of its pilgrimage across the world. The arrival of the symbols of WYD in Slovakia is not the first of its kind. The cross was already circulated among the Slovak dioceses in 2003 and it was received with a very warm welcome, full of joy. According to Fr Chrvala, one of the most significant ‘waves of faith’ in the Country is to live the message of the World Day in close relationship with the Universal Church. “Based on the above, I believe that Slovakian youths occupy a special and unique place from the perspective of the Church’s hope for the future. Many young people have transformed traditional religious practice in a very personal relationship with God, in line with the global trends of the Catholic Church”, said the Secretary of the Youth Council. 2015 national meeting. The Slovakian Bishops’ Conference has begun preparations for WYD 2016 in Krakow shortly after Rio de Janeiro. The Year of Our Lady of Sorrows, proclaimed by the bishops in 2014, offers a great opportunity for the spiritual formation of young people. Last September was launched a special project for young people that offers reflections on the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary. The 1,400 kilometers covered by the Pilgrimage of the Symbols of the WYD, which will close on 29 November in Dubnica nad Vahom, represent a further step of this journey. Finally, preparations for the World Youth Day will culminate with the National Meeting of Youths in Poprad, scheduled for summer 2015. In the month of September began the program of monthly catechesis based on different aspects of purity and prepared by a team consisting of twenty priests, religious and laity.
Nienteen cities in the Country will welcome the cross and the icon of Mary in the coming days, symbol of the World Youth Day" "