The third one, for want of a better name, I have dubbed 'Prayer, Polish and Pepperoni'. I've had these thoughts and ideas since just after WYD Rio de Janiero.
This is the situation:
World Youth Day will be held in Krakow, Poland, in 2016. By rights preparations in parishes should be well underway. I hope that in your parish they are. It is not so in our parish, as far as I can tell, and one of the contributing factors is that our diocese was without a bishop for a whole year and the new bishop has only been installed for a month.
Our Youth Group seems to meet after the 6pm Sunday Mass, and possibly on a fortnightly basis. What they do and how they do it, I don’t know. But I do know that very little information from them trickles into the parish bulletin except for when World Youth Day gets close and some fund raising happens.
For WYD Sydney in 2008 we had some Croatian pilgrims stay with us for the Days in the Diocese part of WYD. Thankfully one of them had good English. Of the other two, one had mediocre English and the other had none. Before the pilgrims arrived we tried to find out where they came from, so that we could have a go at learning their language, but that side of organisational matters was very fluid and there was no certainty until we actually met them. It is a very frustrating part of WYD for both pilgrims and the families they stay with. So even though a lot of youngsters seem to get by these days with devices linked to Google Translate, I am sure that makes for very stilted conversations between pilgrims and host families.
The more our pilgrims can learn the language of the WYD host country the better. For Poland it is even more important because their alphabet has 32 letters, 23 consonants and 9 vowels compared to English with 26 letters.
Because there was a lot of post WW2 immigration from war torn countries like Poland, our parishes have a number of 1st generation and 2nd generation Polish immigrants in them. Some parishes are lucky enough to have Polish priests from missionary religious Orders. Who better than these immigrants to teach our prospective WYD Krakow pilgrims about the language, culture and etiquette of Poland? Who better to inspire our youngsters than these precious immigrants who know what religious persecution is all about and whose faith has been tested and proved like gold?
Sunday night strikes me as a less than ideal night for a youth group, since most youngsters would have school assignments or tertiary projects due on Monday. A Tuesday or Wednesday evening would be better, from 6pm-7.30pm on a fortnightly basis.
The preparation evenings would have pre-ordered pepperoni pizza on the menu.
They would start at 6pm with Grace before meals, an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be all prayed in Polish.
Then there would be some getting to know you time as everybody tucked in to dinner.
Following dinner at c.6.25pm there would be half an hour of Polish language study and conversation practice which would include at least 5 minutes worth of learning the parts of the Mass in Polish.
Then 10 minutes of stories about the culture and religious practices of Poland.
Then 10 minutes about the latest WYD news and pilgrimage preparation information.
Then 5 minutes of silent prayer as a group, praying interiorly from the heart for all the international WYD needs.
To end, for the last 10 minutes everyone would break up into small groups so that the Polish speakers could pray for the needs of the WYD pilgrims and so that the WYD pilgrims could pray for the needs of the Polish speakers.
That's the idea. It would even work, if cut proportionately down to an hour, on tertiary campuses for one lunch hour a fortnight.