(Vatican Radio) Over a million and a half young people from across the globe gathered on the outskirts of Krakow on Sunday morning for the final mass of World Youth Day. The celebration, led by Pope Francis, culminated in the announcement of the venue for the next event, scheduled to take place in 2019.
During the Mass, the Pope told the young people that each one of them is precious and valued by God, who doesn’t care what clothes they wear or what kind of cell phone they use. He urged them to be courageous and to share God’s love with others, as our correspondent in Krakow, Lydia O’Kane reports….
As the sun came up at the Campus Misericordia on Sunday morning the many thousands of pilgrims who had remained in these grounds overnight prepared themselves for the final Mass of this World Youth Day.
Pope Francis was entering this camp for the second time in 24 hours, and as he travelled through this field greeting the sea of youth, the Israeli singer Noah gave a rendition of the Ave Verum and the Ave Maria.
Following an intense week of prayer, reflection and events the Holy Father made his way to the alter for the last time here in Krakow, bathed in the glorious image of Jesus, Divine Mercy. The patrons of this World Youth Day, and symbols of God’s mercy, St John Paul II and St Faustina Kowalska were also remembered.
The Pope’s homily at this closing Mass was one of encouragement to the hundreds of thousands of young people who had come from all over the world for this event.
He told them that “no one is insignificant. God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess.”
The Pope explained to them that, their real stature was their spiritual identity. “At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher”, the Holy Father noted, but God is always “cheering us on; he is our biggest fan.”
Pope Francis urged the young pilgrims here to be courageous, not to be afraid to take risks, not to be discouraged “if people laugh because they believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy.”
The Pope concluded his homily with this message, “World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on.”
And then it was time for one of the highpoints of this celebration, the announcement of the venue for the next World Youth Day. With joy, the Holy Father revealed that this 2019 youth meeting would take place in Panama with these words, “the providence of God always precedes us. Just think that it has already decided the next milestone in the great pilgrimage started in 1985 by St. John Paul II. And therefore I announce with joy that the next World Youth Day - after the two diocesan ones - will be in 2019 in Panama City!
It was then left to the next host of this event to lead the festivities, which they did in style.
Panama pilgrims along with the country’s president erupted with joy and cheering and the country’s distinctive blue, white and red starred flag took pride of place on the stage here at the Campus Misericordiae. As Panama fever took hold Bishops and nuns danced with pilgrims, as the youth of this country invited their fellow participants to join them there in three years’ time to celebrate their faith and be witnesses to Christ’s love.