The last weekend of July 2013 was a busy one for millions of young people as they gathered in Rio, Brazil for World Youth Day.
However the events and celebration extended beyond Brazil as young people gathered for the Rio in Dublin event organised by a team representing a wide range of organisations, including YCW, and ran under the auspices of the Office of Evangelisation of Dublin. Rio in Dublin had a strong social justice programme at its heart. YCW collaborated with Magis Ireland in the social immersion programme dealing with issues like homelessness, the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. The Magis programme is traditionally a two week immersion programme organised by Jesuits in the run up to World Youth Days that includes prayer, hands on social experience and reflection. Young people participating in this event gained a better understanding, thanks to the Jesuit Refugee Service and their Nigerian guest, into the direct provision system and the daily struggles of the asylum seekers in Ireland.
The main venue for the weekend was the Capuchin Church and Day Centre where Brother Kevin and Fr. Bryan Shorthall from the Capuchin Community welcomed the young pilgrims. The diversity of groups as well as the multi-cultural dimension made this event truly colourful. The Brazilian community’s music, dance and lively presence spread contagiously and set the tone of the event.
The programme of catechesis (teaching), workshops, reflections, music and live links to Rio in Brazil, the all night vigil, the dawn prayer and the lively Brazilian programme made it all an enjoyable experience. YCW set up a corner in a hall attached to the Church, a chill out space with beanbags used for refreshments throughout the night. Saturday night after the main catechesis we held a workshop using YCW’s See Judge Act method. The general World Youth Day theme of discipleship inspired our workshop. We discussed the relevance of the theme and practical ways in which the young people present could respond to the challenge of discipleship and how they could make a difference in their respective communities. They showed an inquiring mind and a willingness to act on what they value and believe.
Young people mentioned several social aspects of discipleship they practice like helping others, volunteering and openness however, this goodwill needs to be encouraged and young people empowered to act on issues that affect them.
The Rio in Dublin event, with its social awareness perspective showed that there is need for programmes, events and opportunities for young people to express themselves in a creative and meaningful way. That the values of reaching out, welcoming the stranger, looking out for the needy is as relevant as ever. The challenge of youth organisations is to raise these issues and invite young people to participate in building a just society for all or else to listen to the emerging young voices and empower them to be the difference they want to see in this world.
Rio in Dublin proved that the collaborative effort among youth organisations is a recipe for success and YCW is open to networking and happy to join forces for a better present and future for young people in Ireland.