ORE than 400 religious - Dominicans, Franciscans, Premonstrians, Augustinians and Capucins - and their friends converged this morning at the Dominican Saint-Jacques Priory in the tiny rue des Tanneries in the 13th arrondissement of Paris for the first general assembly of the Jubilatio group in readiness for World Youth Days this week. Jubilatio is the project that the religious orders and their friends have been preparing for the past year and which consists of hosting 7 outdoor cafés with musical or artistic entertainment, 3 prayer tents, a guided walking tour through medieval Paris, a Prayer Vigil for 5000 pilgrims, and a medieval mystery play.
The group consists of young people coming from all parts of the world: the US, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Barbados, Egypte, the Congo, Zaire, South Africa, France, Germany, England, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, the Philippines, Japan, and other countries. Also in the crowd could be seen the apple green T-shirts worn by the WYD volunteer corps, more than 20 of whom will be helping with the Jubilatio project throughout the week.
Setting the right tone
The first part of the day was spent sorting out everyone's gear for the week's work. Useful items like meal tickets, transportation passes, useful addresses, etc. were distributed to everyone. Next came a less hectic moment when everyone gathered in the church of Saint-Jacques Priory to be reminded of the purpose of the World Youth Days events: a celebration of Christ. And since Christ is at the same time God and man, these World Youth Days are a time to celebrate God while at the same time allowing men and women to come together and be one human family together in Christ. There followed a special Mass at midday, and a semi-barbecue lunch in the priory's garden. A time for getting to know each other better, for meeting with old friends, meeting new people, meeting Brothers and Sisters from other countries who have answered the call to follow Christ in the religious life.
The second part of the day was devoted to each one working out the details of his or her specific duties. It also included going out to survey the places around the city of Paris where Jubilatio will be present: the Tuileries Gardens, the Trocadéro, La Défense, the Latin Quarter. Choir rehearsals and stage rehearsals added a special touch of festivity to the afternoon, even if the hot August sun tended to inspire one and all with ideas of a heavy afternoon siesta!
The evening promises to be especially intense as everyone will be heading for the dress rehearsal of the medieval mystery play, to take place in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, behind the Pantheon in the Latin Quarter, starting at 10.00 p.m.