Mgr. Schmitthaeusler says the gathering of young people from 200 countries will underline the "universal" dimension of Catholicism. Before Madrid, a stop in Rome to discover the lives of early Christians and understand the "choice of faith" that leads to martyrdom. A school of biblical and theological formation to prepare them for "the proclamation of the Word of God."
Rome (AsiaNews) - For young Cambodians it "will be an experience of faith and the Church", in its "universal" dimension and its most important and significant factor will be the "the encounter and relationships that will emerge with boys and girls from almost 200 nations across world”, emphasizes the Mgr. Olivier Michel Marie Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, who is currently in these days in Rome with a group of young people who will attend World Youth Day, in Madrid August 16 to 21. He adds that on their return to Cambodia "moments of encounter and reflection on the meeting in Spain," will be held and attention will focus "on the pope's letter, we are finalizing its translation into the Khmer language."
This will be the second World Youth Day experience for the French-born prelate - born in Strasbourg in 1970 - after taking part "as a deacon" in the 1997 event in Paris in the presence of John Paul II. Before setting out on the pilgrimage to Madrid, "we worked long and hard to prepare well", three weekends "of meetings and discussions" were held since last January and, on two occasions, "I have personally led retreats". "And as a bishop - explains Mgr. Schmitthaeusler – it will be a pleasure to celebrate Mass together with Benedict XVI, for the second time in Rome after the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. A moment of true happiness "(see AsiaNews 29/04/2011, Pope Wojtyła, the image of a free man, says apostolic vicar to Phnom Penh
). This year, for the first time a World Youth Day, there will be catechesis for young people in the Cambodian language, given by Mgr. Schmitthaeusler.
For young Cambodians the pilgrimage to Rome in these days "is a part of the whole journey" of faith on the way to Spain. "The visits to the Capitoline basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul, the Catacombs of Saint Callisto - continued the prelate - the discovery of the Christian sites are all key elements to understand the lives of early Christians, to understand the depths of their choice and decision until martyrdom to bear witness to Christ. "
In fact, many of the young people on their way to Madrid - 12 from Phnom Penh, 10 from Battambang and 4 from Kampong Cham, with ages ranging from 18 to 28 – were only baptized two or three years ago. "Their faith is a young one - the bishop says - and this trip to Italy and Spain will serve mainly to help them discover the deep roots of the faith and the universality of the Church." Among others, one of the major advantages of WYD is to enable millions of young people to "come together and pray, feeling part of one people." In particular, the theme of World Youth Day in Madrid - "Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2.7) - is an essential message for the Cambodian pilgrims "with reference to being rooted in Christ." The experience, says the Apostolic Vicar, will help them to "return to Cambodia and better live their faith in their family, society, work and study. A step forward to do more in the life of the Church and in civil society. "
From the Cambodian young people participating in the WYD, the bishop’s thoughts go to the young local church and the missionary work of priests, nuns and lay people. "For the next three years - said Msgr. Schmitthaeusler - we are going to prepare for the formation of the Christian proclamation of the Word of God. In October will open a school for biblical, theological and spiritual formation". Besides educational institutions and formation have always been at the heart of the mission of the apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, who since priesthood has worked for the opening of schools and centers in the country, including the St. Paul Institute (see AsiaNews, 17/03/2010, PIME missionary: Saint Paul Institute a centre of excellence for education in Cambodia
). "I hope to have groups of students - concludes the bishop - who will follow a study course that will last two years."