Saint John Paul II was the Pope of youth. Right from the beginning he urged them, “With the vivacity that is characteristic of your age, with the generous enthusiasm of your young hearts, walk towards Christ. He alone is the solution to all your problems. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life; he alone is the real salvation of the world; he alone is the hope of mankind.”
In order to help young people translate this into their personal life, the John Paul II Youth Centre in Sarajevo oﬀers many diﬀerent forms of help.
It is used by over 10,000 people each year from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and runs summer camps, training camps for volunteer helpers, prayer and retreat days for school groups of all ages, youth days, outdoor Stations of the Cross, pilgrimages and interfaith discussion groups. 12 full-time and 20 part-time staﬀ members oversee the running of the programmes, helped by some 300 volunteers. Sadly, due to the coronavirus, many programmes have been cancelled or postponed. Instead, the centre has expanded its online activities, and is providing spiritual talks, online seminars and counselling sessions for young people. Subsequently, their web traﬀic has increased tenfold as you cannot lockdown the truth. Unfortunately, they still have to meet the overall running costs of the centre, which come to around €100,000 annually. They urgently need our help, and we have promised €30,000.
Similarly, the Brothers of St John in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have been forced to adapt the activities of their own youth apostolate. Their summer camps have become smaller but more frequent as have the faith and philosophy courses for students. And visits to orphanages and old people’s homes are still important for the formation of the young people’s hearts, of course with all the necessary social distancing precautions being taken. The overall aim, Father Athanase Markarian tells us, is to take away the fears of the children and young people. Here we have promised €10,000.