On Sunday, 28 July, before the closing ceremony of Word Youth Day, Pope Francis met with a group of young volunteers. In the Congress Centre Pavilion he encountered 15,000 of the 60,000 volunteers who have worked during the two years of preparation for the Brazilian World Youth Day. The young welcomed him with songs and applause, and Pope Francis greeted them warmly with hugs and kisses.
He thanked them for their work and “the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'”.
He compared them to St. John the Baptist, “who prepared the way for Jesus”, he said. “And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples: to prepare the way so that all people may know, meet and love the Lord. … May you always be generous with God and with others: one loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life”.
He continued, “God … has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment. … Some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of Marriage”, and he commented that in today's cultural of the ephemeral, many say that marriage is out of fashion. “Many preach the importance of 'enjoying' the moment”, he said; “they say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, for ever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring”. He urged the young volunteers “to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. ... Have the courage to be happy”.
The Pope went on to say that the Lord calls some to the priesthood or to the religious life, and shared with the young volunteers his experience at the age of 17 of first hearing God's call. “Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying 'yes' to God. In Him we find joy!”
Finally, he addressed those who “may not yet know what you will do with your lives”, and encouraged them to “ask the Lord, and He will show you the way. … Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours”.