World Youth Day 2016 in the Archdiocese of Lodz: An Example of the Eventization of Faith
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The organization of numerous religious mass events of international, or even global, reach is a phenomenon of the early 21st century. It is sometimes termed “eventization of faith”. This article presents a multifaceted analysis of the initial stage of the World Youth Day in 2016, which took place in the Archdiocese of Łódź (Poland). While multiple scholarly publications have been written about World Youth Day (WYD) itself, its first part of preparatory nature, the so-called “Days in Dioceses”, has not been studied yet. The authors of this paper used a wide array of research methods, such as participant observation, questionnaire (offcial statistics concerning 10,000 pilgrims), pilot survey (258 respondents), and analysis of media reports (over 100 films and 30 articles). The analysis of the organizational method of such a major religious event leads to a conclusion that it is a complex logistic undertaking, which requires professional preparation and implementation by a team of specialists in different fields as well as an army of deeply involved volunteers and public services employees. Over 10.2 thousand young pilgrims (mostly at the age of 15–29) participated in the youth meeting in the Archdiocese of Łódź; apart from spiritual motives (strengthening faith, meeting Pope Francis, following in the footsteps of St. John Paul II) they exhibited strong social (willingness to be in the community of believers, making new friends), recreational and tourist (visiting Poland) needs as well. In view of the hermetic and low-budget character of World Youth Day, its impact on the economy of the region was deemed negligible. Above all, the event played a promotional and image-building part, which perhaps in the years to come will result in an increase in visits of foreign tourists to Łódź.
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