Holy Land WYD Pilgrims

source – www.custodia.org

Young people from the Holy Land in Mardid. Everything is ready . . . Destination ? Madrid !

Five hundred and fifty young people from the Holy Land will participate in the 26th World Youth Day. From Israel, Palestine and Jordan, they include fellow Catholics from the Hebrew-speaking community.

They will meet again with Pope Benedict XVI, following his memorable pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009.

This will be the first opportunity for youth in Ramallah to be able to attend this gathering of young people. We are very excited ! We will be able to meet other people of our ages, and of course, the Pope! We ask God to bless our journey, and enable us to pass on the message of Palestine, of the Holy Land.

It has taken months to prepare an Arabic-language guide for the World Youth Day, and this has included an anthem in Arabic.

Accompanying them will be Bishop Marcuzzo who, organized the event in the Holy Land, underlining the significance of the presence of these young Christians in Madrid.

Bishop GIACINTO-BOULOS MARCUZZO, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel — Archdiocese of Jerusalem

 Above all, these young people are from the very Land of Jesus, and from the Mother Church, which is in Jerusalem. Indeed, they are from the land of the first young people ever to have followed Jesus. Secondly, they represent a current situation: they are from that part of the land which is seeking justice and peace in very difficult circumstances, – and young people are very much involved in all this. They will be able to provide a testimony precisely of those young people who are striving for justice and peace. At the same time they will surely seek explanations and encouragement — perhaps they will even find solutions to these problems.

There will be separate departures: for the Israeli Arabs, who are attached to the Latin Parish in Haifa, and who will fly from Tel Aviv, and for the young people from the Palestinian Territories and Jordan, who are linked with the Good Shepherd Paris in Jericho across the biblical river from Jordan. They hope that the border crossing to Jordan, for their flight from Amman, will go smoothly. In any case, their journey will begin with prayer, as well as a blessing from the Parish Priest in Jericho. However, there is enthusiasm and excitement, especially for the younger members of the group.

This year everyone: Israeli Arabs and Palestinians will march under the same banner: the flag of the Holy Land, defined for the occasion as the “flag of Jerusalem.”

Bishop GIACINTO-BOULOS MARCUZZO

We are leaving under the flag of Jerusalem in order to avoid political issues (because Israel and Palestine have, of course, different flags). We also want to demonstrate the unity which exists among these young people, as well as the unity of the dioceses and the unity of the Holy City of Jerusalem. In Paris in 1997 we were afraid to identify ourselves – to say that we were from this country or that country – because we were then in a peaceful period. As you might remember, this was the time when the Oslo talks were being held – a time when there was an enthusiastic search for a new Middle East. In those years young people were very conscious of this.

Young people called, according to the theme for the occasion, thabituna fil-imam, “firm in faith.”

Bishop GIACINTO-BOULOS MARCUZZO

Something that is dear to the heart of the Holy Father is a need for certainty, and the avoidance of the relativism which is something that kills Modern Man. It is clear that we need this certainty, and the insistence of the Holy Father applies equally to us who live here in the Holy Land. It is usually said that this problem applies to Europe — and this, alas, is true. Can we say that here in the Holy Land, where we can sat that we have no true atheism, and where we appear to have certainties, that this need does not apply? No! We too need to return to certainties which, I have reason to believe, have been lost – especially in Israel where there is an atmosphere in which young people feel lost if they do not have true points of reference.

“As young people in the Holy Land,” Mughannam tells us finally, “we want to take with us to Madrid the joys of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, which took place here for all the world, yet we also want to be enriched by this meeting; to be able to bring back with us light for this, our land; to return with greater faith and greater enthusiasm in order to encourage us to stay in this land.