The post mortem of the XXVIIIth World Youth Day in Rio is under way. There have been lots written about it. From a numbers perspective, it exceeded every expectation.
But let us not talk about the numbers.
And let us, for goodness sake, not talk about the embarrassing videos of ecclesiastics dancing. Oh. My. Goodness. Goodness knows, people could find one about me.
I did six World Youth Days: Denver, Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sydney and Madrid I enjoyed each one of them. I learned something every time. And, well, here it is, I learned that the only group who knows how to actually use World Youth Day for the good of the Church is the Neo-Catechumenal way.
Now many of my fervent and devout friends will remind me that the Neo-Catechumenal are liturgically novel.
Alright then, I will trust that the Holy Father will get all that straightened out. But I am in total admiration of what they do before World Youth Day, during World Youth Day and after World Youth Day.
I do not know of any other group, neither a diocese nor a religious order that takes the pastoral strategy of World Youth Day so seriously.
Today, the day after the closing Mass, the Neo-Catechumenal Way under the leadership of the founders Kiko Aguerllo and Carmen Hernandez will hold a vocational meeting. It will be there, in an altar call that young members of the Way will commit themselves to enter seminaries and religious houses. It is extraordinary.
That is because they regularly meet with their young people, every week, for the entire three years prior to World Youth Day. The commitment of each young person will mature, and by the time they reach World Youth Day, they will not be hankering to go to the beach, to hang out at discos and bars ... to be typical tourists.
No, these "cats" know what they are doing. Admittedly they have a group already in place to do this. And an apostolic way of life to support this kind of commitment.
I wish there were more efforts like it. It would prevent World Youth Day from being like a fire-craker and more like a long burning candle in the life of the Church.