For several months now they have been preparing for a meeting that aims to highlight an existential reality often ignored by the “adult world”. They are thousands of teenagers, young people between the ages of 12 and 17, who will gather in St Peter’s Piazza on April 18th, Easter Monday, for a meeting with Pope Francis.
The initiative has been promoted by the National Youth Pastoral Service of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and has been proposed to the Pope as a “pilgrimage to Rome” through which to try to reflect on this particular “world”, marvellous but at the same time complicated, which certainly deserves more attention from the whole of society. In the meantime, the Church has already started.
The effects of the pandemic
One reason for undertaking a serious reflection on the developmental age of young people arises from the limitations experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, which—as shown by many studies carried out in the field—has severely disadvantaged the lives of young people, forcing them to stay at home and to deprive themselves of the human relationships that are fundamental for them; in addition to the limits experienced in the field of education (with the alternative, where it has worked, of online learning) and in rethinking shared domestic spaces.
For this reason, the Church in Italy has wanted to be an interpreter of this general malaise, and has started an exercise in all the dioceses to spread an awareness of the fact that it is important to invest in this crucial period of life. For his part, Pope Francis welcomed the opportunity to address young people once again, if only to reiterate their importance not only for the future but also for the present of society.
Dialogue between young and old
In fact there is no lack of occasions in which the Holy Father has pointed out the need to preserve and “live” one’s roots, through a fruitful dialogue between the old and the young, because—as he often repeats, in a very apt image quoting an Argentine poet— “everything the flowering tree has comes from its roots” (Bernárdez).
The meeting on Easter Monday will obviously have its high point in the conversation between the teenagers and the Pope, but it will be followed by a prayer vigil with the reading of and meditation on Chapter 21 of St John’s Gospel, on the meeting of Jesus with the disciples after the Resurrection.
It is not by chance that, commenting on the initiative, the head of the youth ministry in Italy, Don Michele Falabretti, said: “We want to encourage and give signs of hope to those who are committed to the growth of young people, and to those who look to the Christian community as the guardians of the future of a life that is born of faith in the Risen Jesus.”
The logo is intended to communicate the same approach. It is composed of the ichthus, a fish made up of many blue dots; it is a shaped as being “alive” and intended to represent “swimming in the sea of human history”. The eye is an orange cross, referring to the “sun of Easter day”, while the blue dots evoke many little drops of water, as a reminder of Baptism and a source of unity.
The title is #seguimi (followme), using the hashtag sign that in the social world symbolizes the search, to represent “a search for the meaning of one’s own life that is renewed in the communion of brothers and sisters with the Father, in the Love of the Son”.