(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday evening delivered his goodbye speech to all those present at Rio de Janeiro’s Galeao Airport gathered to see him on his way and to say “farewell”.
Brazilian President Dilma Roussef headed the delegation of political and civil authorities together with a numerous contingent of Cardinals and Bishops of the nation.
In his address, Pope Francis thanked the President, his brother Bishops and their collaborators, and the entire population of Brazil for making this week “a splendid celebration of the richness and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ”.
And he expressed his gratitude for the work of event organizers and media operators. And in particular he said his “gratitude goes to the many people who prayed, often in silence and simplicity for this World Youth Day to be an authentic experience of growth in faith”.
But above all – Pope Francis said – “my thoughts turn to those who are at the heart of these celebrations: the young people!” . “Many of you came here as disciples” – he continued – “I have no doubt that all of you will leave as missionaries”.
And he urged them to help build a civilization of love: “Show, by your life, that it is worth giving your time and talents in order to attain high ideals, it is worth recognizing the dignity of each human person, and it is worth taking risks for Christ and the Gospel”.
“I will always place my hopes in the young people of Brazil” – Pope Francis said – “and in the young around the world: through them, Christ is preparing a new springtime all over the earth”.
The Pope concluded his farewell speech turning his thoughts to Our Lady of Aparecida and imploring Mary to strengthen all Brazilians in the Christian faith.
Pope to WYD volunteers: May you always be generous
In one of his final engagements in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis met Sunday with hundreds of volunteers who had helped make World Youth Day 2013 a tremendous success.
Thanking them for their tireless efforts, he said, “With your smiles, your acts of kindness, and your willingness to serve, you have shown that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’.”
The Holy Father tied the volunteers’ service to the theme of World Youth Day. “Every one of you,” he said, “each in his or her own way, was a means enabling thousands of young people to ‘prepare the way’ to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples.” He called on them to continue to “be generous with God and with others.”
Turning to the theme of vocations, Pope Francis said, “God calls you to make definitive choices, and He has a plan for each of you.” Some, he said, are called to marriage. Although many people consider marriage unfashionable, the Pope asked the young people “to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide.” “Yes,” he continued, “I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide’. Have the courage to be happy.”
Pope Francis spoke too about the call to priesthood and religious life. “I will never forget the day, 21 September – I was 17 years old – when, after stopping in the Church of San José de Flores to go to Confession, I first heard God calling me.” He told the young people “Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying ‘yes’ to God.”
Finally, the Holy Father spoke to those who do not know yet what they are called to do. “Ask the Lord,” he said, “and He will show you the way.”
Pope Francis concluded his remarks by once again thanking the volunteers for all they had done. “You can always count on my prayers,” he said, “and I know that I can count on yours.”
Read the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks to the World Youth Day volunteers:
Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to Brazil
Address of the Holy Father
Meeting with World Youth Day Volunteers
(Rio de Janeiro – Rio Centro, 28 July 2013)
Dear Volunteers, Good evening!
I could not return to Rome without first thanking all of you in a personal and affectionate way for the work and dedication with which you have accompanied, helped, and served the thousands of young pilgrims, and for the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
The service you have given during these days brings to mind the mission of Saint John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. Every one of you, each in his or her own way, was a means enabling thousands of young people to “prepare the way” to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples. To prepare the way so that all people may know, meet and love the Lord. To you who in these days responded with such readiness and generosity to the call to be volunteers for World Youth Day, I say: May you always be generous with God and with others: one loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life.
God calls you to make definitive choices, and he has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment. God calls each of us to be holy, to live his life, but he has a particular path for each one of us. Some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of Marriage. Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of “enjoying” the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, “for ever”, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage “to swim against the tide”. Have the courage to be happy.
The Lord calls some to be priests, to give themselves to him more fully, so as to love all people with the heart of the Good Shepherd. Some he calls to the service of others in the religious life: devoting themselves in monasteries to praying for the good of the world, and in various areas of the apostolate, giving of themselves for the sake of all, especially those most in need. I will never forget that day, 21 September – I was 17 years old – when, after stopping in the Church of San José de Flores to go to confession, I first heard God calling me. Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying “yes” to God. In him we find joy!
Dear young people, some of you may not yet know what you will do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, in the end he answered: Speak, Lord, for I am listening (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-10). You too can ask the Lord: What do you want me to do? What path am I to follow?
Dear friends, I thank you once more for all you have done during these days. Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours.