Youths and faith in Freiburg

The first national WYD is set to take place May 1-3, with under-35 students from all Cantons. Music, friendship and testimonies

A national WYD will take place in Switzerland for the first time. For three days, from May 1-3, over one thousand young Catholics, coming from all Cantons of the Confederations, decided to gather in Freiburg for prayer and joint festivity, with rock concerts and raggae. The theme of the joint reflection is the one established by the Pope for the World Youth Day, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8), due to be celebrated this year at local level. The event is open to youths aged 16-35, and it will follow the style of the World Youth Days: a three-day workshop of music, joy, prayer, concerts, celebrations, meetings with bishops and much more. Hospitality in homes. “It’s a good opportunity – explained the bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Freiburg Monsignor Charles Morerod – for young Catholics to see that they are not alone, while for those who don’t know the Church, or know her through generally negative clichés, it’s an opportunity to get to know the Church with joy”. The unprecedented initiative of the Swiss Catholic Church is also intended to be a message to the Country that the Church is not a 2000-year-old institution, but that it’s populated with youths, and their presence in Freiburg bears evidence to it. These youths will be welcomed by the families who were asked to host WYD participants, especially those living in the city centre. A website and a person of reference were made available. The only request is for families provide space for a sleeping bag, host the youths for a couple of nights and, for those living on the outskirts of Freiburg, to bring and pick up the youths mornings and evenings. Participants are asked to bring a sleeping bag, a folding mattress, radio with FM connection and headphones because the meetings will be translated and aired into Italian, German and French through the radio signal. Seven notes and spirituality. If Freiburg opens its doors to youths, also the WYD will be open to the city. Various events programmed will take place in the various churches of Freiburg, and they will also involve the public space. Two concerts will take place in Place Python, open to the general public. There will be musical performances by the rock band Cardiac Movie, and by Guetters, that perform primarily reggae music. The unique feature of their performance is its theme: God. Out-of-the-ordinary testimonies. In addition to the music bands, the program envisages the sharing of personal experiences, most of which are rather singular, and which are expected to attract a young audience. Among the speakers figures Leah Darraow, an American theologian and a devout Catholic. So far nothing extraordinary except that Leah Darrow, now the mother of two children, used to be a famous model, known to the general public for her participation in the TV show “America’s Next Top Model.” She will tell her story with Torsten Hartung, once the boss of one of the biggest car theft gangs in Europe, who lived his life on the brim of illegality, fascinated by money and power, until he was put into prison and there he converted to Christianity, an event that marked a radical turning point in his life. The bishops are attuned. Also the Swiss bishops will live the WYD days with the youths. In fact, five bishops will attend the national WYD. They are: Charles Morerod, Jean-Marie Lovey, Alain de Raemy, Marian Eleganti e Valerio Lazzeri. In addition to officiating the numerous Eucharistic celebrations, the bishops were asked to share with the youths their personal faith witness. In fact, Sunday’s program will be closed by a moment of sharing, at the end of which the bishop will impart blessings on the young participants. This a precious occasion for the Swiss episcopate to take the pulse of young Catholics in the country, since until now such meetings had taken place at regional level only. Freiburg’s 1000 participants from across Switzerland will have the opportunity of experiencing the Church as a whole.

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