Oblate Youth Service work ~ World Youth Day

History of World Youth Day


World Youth Day History IrelandWhat is World Youth Day

World Youth Day is a youth-oriented international event that takes place every two to three years. The event itself is a celebration of Catholic faith among the world’s youth, but the invitation is extended to youth of all the world regardless of religious convictions. World Youth Day was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985 with the first encounter being held in Rome in 1986. St Teresa of Calcutta was recently declared the Patron Saint of World Youth Day and the blessed Pope John Paul II has become it's co-patron.

World Youth Day Ireland HistoryEach international World Youth Day attracts thousands of young people from around the world to gather in a festival of unity and colour. World Youth Day is not just a day, but a week of festival, celebrating the faith of young people. World Youth Day presents an opportunity for young people of different cultures and backgrounds to come together and share in the faith and culture of others. It has become tradition that the groups of young people carry various colours, flags and symbols to distinguish who they are and where they come from. This is also done through song, chants and music. Throughout the course of the event, young people trade these symbols, flags and colours to keep as souvenirs of their time at World Youth Day and as memories of the people they met.

Irish World Youth Day HistoryHistory of World Youth Day

Although World Youth Day has become a week of celebration, the pinnacle of the festival is the open air mass held by the Pope on the last day. This is officially ‘The World Youth Day’. All the other activities are a build up to this event. The smiles and joy, singing and dancing, culture upon culture and nation upon nation, proudly holding flags high, greeting one another, trading tokens, humbly realizing how small we are in a world of people, and strengthened to witness so many who share our faith with all its difficulties and challenges, is all part of the build up to this massive International Mass, celebrating youth with their enthusiasm and joy.

There have been a total of 13 International World Youth Days since 1986 and the Oblate Youth Service has been involved since 2000 with the group who departed for World Youth Day in Rome, Italy. Since then the Oblate Youth Service has been represented at World Youth Day Toronto, Canada in 2002, followed by Cologne, Germany in 2005, Sydney, Australia in 2008, Madrid, Spain in 2011 and Krakow, Poland in 2016.

Oblate Youth Service at World Youth DayOblate Youth Service at WYD

During WYD in Italy 2000, Oblate youth groups gathered together for the first time from around the Oblate World and it has become since then, a lived reality that Oblate youth groups gather together for 4 days in the host country within which the WYD is taking place. This event is called ‘The Oblate Youth International Encounter’ and presents a fantastic opportunity to meet other people who are in groups similar to the Oblate Youth Service. It is a chance to exchange ideas, listen to what projects and activities other Oblate youth groups from around the world are engaged in, to share our common reason for involvement which is the spirit and challenge of St. Eugene de Mazenod the Oblate founder, to serve those in need in the world in which we find ourselves in today.

While WYD is a slightly different activity when compared to the other projects the Oblate Youth Service are involved in, it still holds its own unique significance. It presents a fantastic opportunity to take time out and reflect on where we are on our own individual faith paths as well as taking the time to reflect on why we engage so whole heartedly in the other projects the OYS are involved in where we are giving our ‘service for others’. Often in day to day life it is hard to take time out to evaluate these things and WYD provides us with that space and challenge.