Question: Why are you going to WYD Madrid 2011?
Answer: I am going to WYD because I am convinced that this initiative of Blessed John Paul II is inspired by God, is a moment of true grace in the life of the Church. As a bishop in union with the Holy Father, I also wish to offer what little I can as a catechist to call young people to know, love and serve God with the joy and sense of faith, hope and love that are the distinguishing marks of a disciple of Christ.
Q: What do you hope the youth from your diocese and from the world get from participating in WYD?
A: An encounter with Christ who is alive, a deepening of the awareness of the liberating spirit of the gospel; a sense of deeper identity with the Church and with one another; a renewed commitment to live the faith and witness it personally and as a community of communion.
Q: What do you think are gifts that U.S. participants will bring to Madrid 2011?
A: Enthusiasm, openness, a thirst to know the true God; a desire to meet and share with others; a need to be reinforced in the faith so that they can reinforce others and invite those who do not know Jesus to recognize him in the Church which celebrates the Eucharist.
Q: You have been at several WYD before. Can you share any special moment or anecdote that touched you?
A: This is the fourth time I have been a catechist. I remember the young people of Tonga who brought us an experience of their life as a Church. I remember Blessed John Paul embracing a young person who broke through the barriers just to hug him. I remember the Holy Father [John Paul II] saying “the pope is old” only to have hundreds of thousands of young people chant in response “The pope is young. The pope is young!” I remember Pope Benedict at Cologne and the moving Stations of the Cross there. I remember above all the faces of young people happy, committed, and eager to share what they have been given: life in Christ.
Q: Why is participating in WYD important to you and how have they impacted your ministry, the youth in your diocese, or your diocese?
A: There is too much to say. My own interaction with young people has been shaped by WYD. Learning from the examples of the popes, I try to make myself open and responsive to the young, confident that sincerity and honesty and true love of Christ and His Church become their own message, become the most important message we bishops can share. They will know it if they see it in us.
Bishop of Rockville Centre