Help for the Construction of the Pope John Paul II Youth Pastoral Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Project Code: 444-20-19
After the collapse of Yugoslavia, a brutal civil war raged for three years in Bosnia and Herzegovina, between 1992 and 1995. By the time it ended, 243,000 people had lost their lives, while a further 2 million people had been uprooted and "ethnically cleansed" as a result of the dividing of the republic. A great many churches, convents, monasteries, parishes and other Church properties were deliberately destroyed. The scars of this war are still visible, even 19 years after it ended.
Despite his advanced age and ill-health, Pope John Paul II would not be deterred from traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the homily he gave here, he said, "I embrace you, beloved sons and daughters of this pilgrim Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to say to you that you hold an important place in the heart of the Pope. He constantly brings before the Lord the sufferings that still render your path difficult, and he shares with you, full of hope, your waiting forbetter days."
He also added that he was praying that God might "pour into all the desire for mutual forgiveness. Only in an atmosphere of true reconciliation will the memory of so many innocent victims and of their death not have been in vain, but will instead encourage us to build new relationships of fraternal love and understanding."
Now, in the capital Sarajevo, a youth pastoral center is being built which will bear the name of this great Pope. In fact, the first phase of the work has already been completed, and the second phase is now beginning. In this center, young people from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to meet together, either as individuals or in groups, and take part in pastoral meetings, training sessions and leisure activities. The building offers the possibility of overnight accommodation, so that meetings and sessions of several days duration can be organized.
The motto of the centrt is "Encounter and reconciliation: shaping a peaceful future together." The director of the center, Father Simo Marsic explains: "The young people of Bosnia are looking for role models and for a better future. They long for true values and for understanding between the various different ethnic groups. Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims must learn how to shape the future together."
It is not by chance that this center will bear the name of Pope John Paul II. As the rector explains, "The central idea in choosing this name was the fact that Pope John Paul II was a builder of bridges between people of different origins and beliefs. This bridge building is absolutely appropriate to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Balkans as a whole and indeed in Europe, too.”
“Pope John Paul II saw young people as "bearers of the future," and it was in this sense that in the year 2000, at the World Youth Day in Rome, he entrusted to them the future of our country, as he did again during his visit to Banja Luka in 2003. We understand these words as our mission for the work of our youth center."
ACN has committed to helping with a contribution of $9,900, for the construction of the center. Will you give to help build this Pope John Paul II Youth Pastoral Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
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