They have been preparing for several months for a meeting that aims to highlight an existential reality often ignored by the "adult world". They are the thousands of teenagers, young people between the ages of 12 and 17, who on April 18, Easter Monday, will gather in St. Peter's Square for a meeting with Pope Francis.
The initiative was promoted by the National Youth Pastoral Service of the Italian Bishops' Conference, and was proposed to the Pontiff as a "pilgrimage to Rome" through which to try to reflect on this particular "world", wonderful but at the same time complicated, which certainly deserves more attention from the whole of society. In the meantime, the Church begins.
The effects of the pandemic
One of the reasons for initiating a serious reflection on the developmental age of young people also stems from the constraints experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, which, as shown by many field researches, has severely penalized the lives of young people, forced to stay at home and to deprive themselves of human relationships that are fundamental to them. In addition to the limits recorded in the field of education - with the alternative, where it has worked, of distance learning - and in the rethinking of shared domestic spaces.
For this reason, the Italian Church has wanted to be an interpreter of this general malaise and has initiated a process in all dioceses to spread awareness that it is important to invest in this strategic time. For his part, Pope Francis welcomed this 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
There is no lack of occasions, in fact, in which the Holy Father points out the need to preserve and "live" the roots, through a fruitful dialogue between elders and young people, because, as he often repeats in a very apt image quoting an Argentine poet, "everything that the tree that blooms has comes from its roots" (Bernárdez).
The meeting on Monday after Easter will obviously have its climax in the dialogue between the teenagers and the Pope, but it will also be followed by a prayer vigil with listening to and meditation on chapter 21 of the Gospel of John, on Jesus' meeting with the disciples after the Resurrection.
It is not by chance that, commenting on the initiative, one of those responsible for youth ministry in Italy, Father 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 guardian of a future of life that is born of faith in the risen Jesus".
The logo also aims to communicate this same approach. It is composed of the ICHTUS, a fish made up of many blue circles arranged around the cross of the eye. It has a "vital" shape and is intended to represent "swimming in the sea of human history". The cross is orange and refers to the "sun of Easter Day", while the blue circles evoke many small drops of water as a reminder of Baptism and a source of unity.
The title is 1TP4Follow me, with the graphic sign that in the social world symbolizes the search, to represent "a search for the meaning of one's own existence that is renewed in the communion of brothers and sisters with the Father, in the Love of the Son".