Twenty-five years ago (9-10 September, 1995), the European Youth meeting, EurHope 95, was held in Loreto. The inspiration for this meeting was an appeal for peace in the Balkans. At the time, I was working in the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which was in charge of organizing this event, and therefore I was very much involved. I remember many things from that gathering, but I will point out three which made a particular impression on me.
First of all, there were the words of Cardinal Eduardo Pironio who, in greeting the Pope at the end of the Mass, stated: “Holy Father, these young people are not afraid of holiness—they are afraid of mediocrity and sin.” This was a true and proper vision of life which expressed the strength of what was experienced.
During the Saturday evening vigil, the connection with Sarajevo was the most anticipated event. The second memory is linked with this connection: the image of the young woman of Sarajevo crying and laughing at the same time, just as pain and the home that comes from God go together on the same path.
The final memory is of a great gesture of humanity on the part of John Paul II. Although by that time he could only walk with great difficulty, he did not hesitate to approach a group of young Poles who had had an accident during their journey to Loreto.
Yet the strongest memory is of how the youth from different areas of the Balkans were able to sit together, pray together for peace, exchange gestures of peace, and together commit themselves to do everything possible to realize this peace.
Carmen Aparicio, President of the John Paul II Youth Foundation