Pope Benedict to kick off 25th anniversary celebrations for youth center


Pope Benedict is planning to help the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre, which was founded by Pope John Paul II, kick off its 25th anniversary by celebrating Mass for its workers and guests on Sunday, March 9.

The Mass will be celebrated in the church of San Lorenzo, which is nearby St. Peter’s Square and connected to the youth center.

The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre was inaugurated by John Paul II on 13 March 1983. During a Eucharistic celebration held that day, the then Pope expressed the hope that the centre may become "a forge for the formation of authentic young Christians who are capable of bearing coherent witness to the Gospel in today's world".

According to a press communiqué released this morning, the "house for young people", supported by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and located next to the Holy See, is "a place of welcome, prayer, formation and encounter for young people from all over the world who are in Rome on pilgrimage". It is also "the site where the World Youth Day cross is kept".

The Eucharistic celebration presided by Benedict XVI will inaugurate a series of initiatives planned to mark the 25th anniversary.

On Thursday March 13, another Eucharistic celebration will be held, this time presided by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It will be followed by a prayer vigil and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, due to last until midnight.

On Friday March 14, another vigil will take place, organised by the community of Taize and presided by Frere Alois, prior of the community. On Saturday March 15 a meeting of reflection and witness will be held on the theme of "the history and mission of the San Lorenzo International Centre" to be attended by Cardinal Rylko and by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical council "Cor Unum", who promoted the foundation of the centre 25 years ago.

The events will come to an end on Palm Sunday March 16 with the Mass presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square.

The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre, which welcomes all young people, remains open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. Mass is celebrated every evening, followed by Eucharistic adoration.

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