History - St. Thomas More

History World Youth Day Cologne 2005


A presentation given by Geoffrey Hagger and Oliver Purchase at all Masses on October 8th - 9th 2005

Geoffrey - Introduction: We would first like to thank you for your support in our fund raising activities which made it possible for us to go to Cologne, and also to thank you for the support of your prayers. It was a vast event with 164 nations represented. 1.2 million came to Cologne, including 38,000 priests and 800 bishops.

The things we most remember were the Welcome and Fellowship:

The fellowship of Christians I experienced at the Flava Festival in Holland. The welcome of the Dutch families. The welcome of Cologne. The new friendships made. The welcome and hospitality of the local people as we walked in pilgrimage to the Marienfeld. Their offer of food and drink along the way, including 'Papal pizza!'

My lasting memory is of the Mass at the Cathedral in Holland. This had more impact on me than any other Mass I have ever been to. My visit to Cologne has strengthened my faith, knowing there are others like me.

We went to many liturgies during our week in Cologne. But there are two that stand out in our mind. The Mass at the Football Stadium in Cologne. The contrast of the atmosphere of friendship to the sometimes hostile atmosphere of a football match held there. The echoing round of the words of the liturgy.

The Vigil and Mass at Marienfeld with the Pope. The excitement at the arrival of the Pope. The joy of the Pope. The sanctuary, illuminated on the hill built of soils from all the countries present. The bringing in of the same cross which we had prayed with at Cardinal Newman a year before. The candlelight. Some of us stayed up all night, and some slept!

Walking with flags and music - the singing and dancing. Sleeping in the open, and stepping over thousands of bodies to move around. The energy and enthusiasm of everybody.

Geoffrey: We were left with many impressions of Cologne:

The rucksacks which were instant recognition as pilgrims. The cathedral in Cologne and the tomb of the Three Kings. Young people praying in all the churches we visited. The nuns, monks, priests and leaders - their joyful participation.

My lasting memory is of Pope Benedict with his arms outstretched to us all, silhouetted against the setting sun. And overall, the whole event, all the different strands coming together. Finally, we went to Cologne as representatives of our parish, and there we heard a message. We bring this message back to you. It is an excerpt from the Papal Homily at Closing Mass of World Youth Day:

'Let us go forward with Christ'
Dear Friends!
Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on.
In vast areas of the world today there is a strange forgetfulness of God. It seems as if everything would be just the same even without him. But at the same time there is a feeling of frustration, a sense of dissatisfaction with everyone and everything.
People tend to exclaim: "This cannot be what life is about!" Indeed not. And so, together with forgetfulness of God there is a kind of new explosion of religion.
I have no wish to discredit all of this. There may be sincere joy in the discovery. Yet if it is pushed too far, this religion becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it. But religion constructed on a "do-it-yourself" basis cannot ultimately help us. It may be comfortable, but at times of crisis we are left to ourselves.
Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ!

Let us seek to know him better and better, so as to be able to guide others to him with conviction...

Let us go forward with Christ and let us live our lives as true worshippers of God! Amen.