Festival of Life Motivated Youth to Live “Like Fire”


Originally Published on OMIWORLD.ORG

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By Marcin Szuścik

One thousand young people, one week, one God. Workshops, conferences, concerts, games, Masses, prayers, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and much more. What else do you want to see at a Catholic youth gathering? “Festival of Life”, the annual youth programme organized by the Polish Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and five dioceses in Poland, had all of the above.

It was held at the “Niniwa” Oblate  Youth Centre in Kokotek. Apart from the Oblate youth and the young people from the five dioceses, many groups and individuals from several other parts of the country also participated at this unique event.

The theme this year was “Like Fire”. It was embedded in the Old Testament texts concerning the incredible adventures of Elijah! Just to mention a few: miracles, conflicts, challenges, but also moments of doubt and helplessness. During the Festival, the young people had an opportunity to discover similarities between themselves and the great Prophet. Throughout the week, the theme was deepened further by the guest speakers. One significant lay speaker among them was Sylwia Jaśkowiec, a famous Polish cross-country skier, who has taken part in World Championships and the Winter Olympic Games. She not only shared her journey of faith, but also addressed some interesting topics like “How to combine sport and faith”, “How to distinguish good ambition from bad ambition” and “How to open ourselves to God”.

Each of the seven days had conferences, group activities, and workshops. After the Holy Mass and dinner, each evening offered a ‘fun’ event or two. Among them were concerts, a musical theatre, a stage play, and the Festival Run. The concert of “Arka Noego”, a well-known children’s band, attracted an audience of over two thousand people. This year, probably, the most spectacular event was the musical theater. Performed by over one hundred artists, it was about the Prophet Elijah and his story from the Book of Kings. However, the event most often mentioned after the week ended was the Festival Run,  a 7 km run with obstacles, through the forest, lake and swamp. The participants reached their limits of strength but they had smiles on their faces at the end.

The Festival gave ample freedom to the participants. None of the events was made compulsory. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed 24 hours a day inside the chapel, and all those who wanted to be alone with the Lord grabbed this blessed opportunity with both hands. There was also a chill-out zone, where you could do some sports, grilling, or just relax.

Fr. Louis LOUGEN, the OMI Superior General, several of his Counselors, and Paweł Zając, Provincial of the Polish Province, graced the occasion with their presence on the last day of the Festival. “We must listen to the voice of young people more and more, as you are not only the future, but also the present of the Church”, Fr. Lougen said during his homily.

“Life Festival is a huge undertaking. We are counting on the fact that the festival will permanently appear on the calendar of young people from all over the country”. Krzysztof Zieliński, an  Oblate youth and a member of the organizational team, commented after the successful ending of the Festival.