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The Vatican has requested Bishop Charles Drennan of the Palmerston North Diocese to lead one of the three Catechesis sessions for English speaking pilgrims at January’s World Youth Day in Panama.

The topic given to Bishop Charles focusses on Christian service and includes a reference to Mary’s acceptance of God’s request to her to be the mother of Jesus. Commenting on the topic Bishop Charles said: “the Annunciation is one of my favourite stories. I love the way Mary questions the angel Gabriel and ponders the wonders being asked of her. In fact she doesn’t come to an answer but rather to an act of faith: let it be done to me according to your Word. From her ‘yes’ to God, unfolds the history of Christianity”.

It is the first time Bishop Charles has attended a World Youth Day. Commenting on this opportunity he said: “the experience of pilgrimage is a dynamic one and gives an understanding of our faith that comes from something other than the usual reading or listening. I am really looking forward to gathering with Pope Francis and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across the world.”  

Bishop Drennan went on to comment that Pope Francis has been talking of the need for better accompaniment of young people. He added: “I see it the other way around too. We Bishops and older members of the Church need to be better accompanied by the young themselves.”

He further explained: “we are a communion of people. There is no hierarchy of age in the Church yet so much of our formal written expression and documentation of who we are is produced by older men (cf. Joel 2:28). Even the recent final document of what was a very dynamic Synod on Young People is disappointingly dull. It could have been so much better if young people had been entrusted with being a part of the writing group. I am confident though that slowly the Synod Office in Rome will evolve its working methods and better equip itself for the renewal that Papa Francesco is calling for.” 

At the start of their pilgrimage the New Zealand group will be hosted by the Saint James the Apostle Parish in Panama City in the poorer and predominantly Caribbean suburb of Rio Abajo.  The group will stay there, along with pilgrims from Lativa, Ireland and other countries.  After the parish experience the group will head into Panama City Central for the World Youth Day week activities culminating with an overnight prayer Vigil and Sunday morning Final Mass led by Pope Francis and attended by an expected 1 million people.

Following his catechesis Bishop Charles will direct a general Q&A session.  He will also preside at Mass for English speaking pilgrims on one of the days prior to Pope Francis’ arrival and give the homily. Bishop Charles quipped that his instruction letter said to keep the homily short!

The pilgrimage can be followed online at www.worldyouthday.nz or on facebook www.facebook.com/worldyouthday.nz (#wydnz).

ENQUIRES:

World Youth Day Aotearoa Coordinator – David Mullin; 021 707 266