Great Jubilee News

Celebration Among Different Cultures and Religions

VATICAN CITY, ( The Focolare Movement will hold its "Genfest" meeting as an expression of unity among youth of different cultures, religions, and Christian denominations during the course of World Youth Day festivities. As a result, the diversity of this group, meeting on August 17, will be added to the mosaic of cultures already making up World Youth Day.

Some 25,000 youths are expected to attend Genfest. During the meeting, a young Irish Catholic, a Filipino Muslim, and a Russian Orthodox, to mention only a few, will speak about their commitment in service of peace and charity.

Mariska Brezinova, 26, of the Czech Republic, member of the event's organizing committee, disclosed
some of the details of the forthcoming Genfest: "There will be music, dancing, songs, choreography;
there will be the expression of Youths for a United World. Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare
Movement, will arrive at 8 p.m.; she will speak about her experience of God."

-- The papal message to youth for the World Youth Day states: "The Lord wants you to be intrepid
apostles of his Gospel and builders of a new humanity. In fact, how can you say that you believe in
God made Man, if you do not take a position against all that degrades the human person and family?"
What did you feel when you read these words of the Pope, with which he invited youths to participate
in the World Youth Day?

-- Mariska Brezinova: This World Youth Day will make me do something concrete, as soon as I return
home to Prague. This means loving the persons who are near me. I live in a neighborhood of Prague
in which there are children who are often on the street and who, in the afternoons, don't know what to
do. I am thinking of gathering these children together and doing something with them.

-- What have the World Youth Days in which you have participated meant to you?

-- Mariska Brezinova: The first World Youth Day in which I participated was 9 years ago in
Czestochowa in 1991. It was the first opportunity those of us who lived in Eastern Europe had to take
part in a meeting with the entire universal Church. In those days we lived in an atmosphere of God. In
those days, some of my friends found their way of life, their vocation.

-- Can you be more specific?

-- Mariska Brezinova: We brought all our food in backpacks for those days. For example, I carried
one that weighed about 20 kilos. When World Youth Day was about to finish, we were told that the
Russians who were there had nothing to eat. At that moment I had the impression that we didn't have
much to give them, since the week was almost over. So we decided to take what we had to the
platform. At the end, we were able to fill a van with food. It was a unique experience. The following
day, one of the Russians came to thank us, his eyes filled with tears. I was impressed to see how we
could love one another reciprocally. We must not forget that in our history, the Russians occupied us
for almost 50 years. However, at that moment, I thought of everything except this. We really wanted
to love all of them, despite the fact that their country had done us so much harm.