In 2015, the St. John Paul II Youth Pastoral Center was established in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is open to all young people, regardless of their faith or ethnic origin. Young people were especially important to St. John Paul II, who introduced many lasting initiatives on their behalf, most notably World Youth Day.
The center has had great success. Every year, 10,000 people, ages 10 and up, participate in its pastoral meetings, training sessions, and leisure activities. Its slogan is “Encounter and Reconciliation: Shaping Peace and a Future Together,” and it has 20 full-time staff members and 300 volunteers.
The young people who become involved with the center are typically active in their home parishes and positive figures in their community. One of the center’s primary goals is to promote interaction and cooperation among different ethnic groups, so that a more peaceful future is possible.
Such youth work is key to the Church’s survival in the region. As a result of the Bosnian War, which lasted from 1992 to 1995, about 250,000 Catholic Croatians were either expelled from their homeland or voluntarily emigrated. Even today, approximately 10,000 people leave the country each year, many of them Catholics, because of discrimination in schools and the workplace. But young people who participate in their parishes and community programs are more likely to stay.
The center in Sarajevo cannot support growing demand, so a new branch has opened in northern Bosnia. It offers overnight accommodations and a wide range of activities, as well as a functioning farm and orchard.
The Bosnian branch is up and running, but there are still improvements to be made, especially in the bathrooms and toilet blocks. There is also a plan to build an outdoor stage, complete with seating for open-air performances and other events.
ACN has proposed a contribution of $22,400 so that work can be quickly completed. Will you support the expansion of the St. John Paul II Youth Pastoral Center?
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