That isn’t surprising, as the Mariapolis draws together people of all ages and backgrounds for an experience that is different every year. One thing is for certain, however. Mariapolis 2017 will be a glimpse of what a united world might look like, if we choose to build it.
In a change from recent years, Mariapolis 2017 will be held in the spring, just before Easter. The opportunity to hold it at Ampleforth College, set in the stunning grounds of the 19th Century Ampleforth Abbey, means a move from the traditional summer week to a shorter break on this occasion.
Some familiar elements will remain: reflections, sharing experiences of the gospel lived, outings, and times of relaxation together. The Mariapolis, a ‘temporary town’ based on the gospel law of love, needs to be built afresh every year, however. That’s a job for everyone who comes, from the youngest to the oldest.
The timing is perhaps significant this year, with the theme focussing on how understanding the cry of Jesus on the cross in His abandonment leads us to unity with God, with one another and provides an answer to the echoing cries of a suffering world.
Ampleforth is a well-known Roman Catholic institution, with historical links stretching back across the centuries. The Focolare movement, whilst having its origins in the Roman Catholic Church, now reflects the diversity of the world, and is made up of people from many Christian denominations, world faiths and those with non-religious convictions.
The prospect of linking the past, present and the future is what will make Mariapolis 2017 an exciting one!