Monique van Dijk conducts research at World Youth Days in Lisbon

- EN - NL

Professor Monique van Dijk-Groeneboer of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (TST) will conduct research on how young people experience faith in times of secularization, at the World Youth Days (WYD) hosted by the Catholic Church in Lisbon from Aug. 1-6. The World Youth Days is the largest Catholic youth event in the world. They take place every three years, in a different host city each time. The 2022 edition was postponed a year because of the corona pandemic.

At the , the Pope enthuses young people to make work of their faith, making a positive impact in the world. Van Dijk has been researching how young people give meaning to their lives for years. In doing so, she tries to connect to the language of young people themselves. They often experience a large gap between their world of experience and the church, or do not know the church or faith at all. It is often mainly something that still existed with their grandparents. At the same time, there is a curiosity among many young people about the value that faith can have for people. At the WYD, Van Dijk hopes to speak with young people and facilitators about their experience at the WYD and what the impact for their lives might be. There is great diversity among participants in terms of their relationship to the Catholic Church, though most are familiar with it.

Qualitative interviews

Van Dijk will conduct qualitative interviews primarily to discover the language that young people and their supervisors use for their religious or spiritual experiences. In doing so, she also hopes to provide the Church with tools for involving more young people in the synodal process in the Catholic Church. The latter is the pope’s explicit call to young people.

650,000 pilgrims are registered for the WYD, including nearly 1,000 Dutch youth. TST is represented by Van Dijk and director Ada van der Velden. Researcher and lecturer Anton ten Klooster, also a priest, is one of the tour guides for the Archdiocese of Utrecht. A number of TST students are also traveling to Lisbon, and one of them is a volunteer with the WYD organization in Portugal.

Ecology, friendship and mercy

During the week there will be three meetings with the Dutch group, under the title Rise Up. The themes for these are integral ecology, social friendship and mercy. The meeting is set up under simple conditions: participants stay in schools and sports halls. The week before the WYD, pilgrims are guests in Portuguese dioceses, where they stay in host families. This encounter between cultures is an important part of the WYD. During the week there are festivals, events and workshops. There is also room for prayer and celebrations. Bishops from the Netherlands provide three catechetical moments, this time at the Pope’s request explicitly in a synodal manner; listening to and engaging in conversation with the young people.