Lviv Youth Prepare for Papal Rally

16.05.2001, 14:41
The youth of Lviv's Sykhiv neighborhood are preparing for the rally which Pope John Paul II will lead there on 26 June. A million youth from Ukraine and beyond are expected to attend the papal meeting to be held in the huge plaza in front of the church of the Nativity of the Mother of God.

Sykhiv is one of the newest of Lviv's neighborhoods, with a population of over 150,000. Every year it becomes even more important for the city, so it's no surprise that this was the site picked for the Pope's youth gathering. This part of the city is very young, so social and religious life there is just beginning to pick up speed. But because it is a newer area, special preparations will be necessary. «The biggest problem,» according to Fr. Orest Fredyna, pastor of Nativity church, «will be preparing the square in front of the church. It's got to be ready for everyone who comes, and we're expecting over a million people. The City Council has agreed to repair the nearby roads for the youth meeting, but there's other work, too. There's the very big parcel of land itself, which is still not ready: this all depends on the elbow grease of our community and all people of good will. «Another big task is to complete the basement premises of the church. We're trying to get all the local schools and all the faithful actively involved. We're hoping that all the schools and everyone who's willing will be able to take in the pilgrims who will be travelling to Lviv for the Papal Visit.» The young people themselves are giving special attention to the preparations for the visit. Vasyl Bilash, the twenty-three year-old leader of Sykhiv's Catholic Youth Center reports that «every Saturday all the youth groups in the neighborhood get together and talk over how they can best prepare for the Papal Visit.» There are special training courses being held for volunteers. There are a number of training groups, with ten to twelve people in each. Many young people have volunteered to help in the building and repair work and also to help clean up around the church. Volodomyr Tymoshenko, a member of the choir which will sing for the papal meeting, admits «our preparations are intense, but in a friendly way.» The head of Nativity parish's Marian Society says that the upcoming visit of the Holy Father «is bringing people together in a special way and encouraging them to help.» Prayer vigils and religious discussions and talks are being planned, which will center around the theme of the Papal Visit, «Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.» Faith and Light, an international organization with a chapter in the Sykhiv neighborhood, gets developmentally delayed youth involved in community and church life. A special place will be reserved for its members during the Papal gathering. The youth also want to organize big group campfires for the visiting pilgrims during the Papal Visit. This is a Ukrainian summer tradition. Sykhiv resident and seminarian Andriy Mychaleyko says that «this will unite everyone spiritually and also underline the importance of the visit: everyone will feel that he is a member of one great Christian community.»