The World Youth Peace Meeting is the fruit of a 30-year journey. Born from the meeting of Sermig and its founder Ernesto Olivero with thousands of young people, men and women, believers and others. Meetings that gave birth to an intuition: to allow the new generations to be heard by the great of the Earth in the fields of politics, culture, economy and spirituality.
"Young people have always been my torment, - says Ernesto Olivero - they have always been the meaning of my life". It is the spirit that has animated the history of Sermig since 1964, the year of its foundation: young people as a priority, but above all as a hope for building a better world. Over the years, the idea of doing something meaningful to them has been strengthened. All thanks to insights and special meetings, like the one with Dom Helder Camara, a giant of the Brazilian Church. On 8 December 1986, the bishop of the poor sent an inspired letter to Sermig and appealed to Ernesto Olivero's "creative imagination" to "always find new commitments for young people".
Eleven years later, Mother Teresa of Calcutta reinforces this invitation. He writes in a letter to Olivero: "I think we must - go in search of children, of young people, to bring them home". These words are soon combined with the commitment of Sermig for young people: the weeks of training at the Arsenale della Pace in Turin, the daily meetings with schools, the pilgrimages on foot throughout Italy, the inquiries that reveal the distrust of boys towards institutions and fear of the future, stories of suffering related to drugs and alcohol ...
Ernesto Olivero goes so far as to say that today "young people are really the poorest of the poor". "The desire to help them - he confides - has never left me and has become deeper". And again: "For a young person I would be willing to cross the whole world. And so, while remaining shy, without knowing any language other than that of love, I find myself wandering around the world looking for the lost youth ".
At the end of the 1990s, new interpretations arrive. The dream is to create opportunities to reconcile the generation of fathers with that of their children. In a simple way: meeting each other face to face. The difficulties and hopes of young people are gathered in a charter of commitments, the "Charter of young people", born with the contribution of 400 groups of young people from all over Italy. Sermig presents it at the Vatican to John Paul II on December 22nd 2000, on an unforgettable day, the Jubilee of Peace. The Pope listens and reciprocates: "Write, dear friends, each with his own contribution, a page of history of young people and for young people, where the new generations emerge as passionate protagonists of a fruitful season of the civilization of love".
Two years later, on 5 October 2002, Turin hosts the first "World Youth Peace Appointment". On that occasion, around 100,000 young people meet in Piazza San Carlo, the city's living room, and in the adjacent streets, ideally gathered around the "Charter of young people". On 31 January 2004, a new meeting with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican: 10 thousand young people in Paul VI Hall to reflect on the theme "Peace will win if we talk". The reflection on the dialogue continues, on October 3 of the same year, in Asti, the city chosen for the second "World Youth Meeting of Peace", in which tens of thousands of young people take part.
They are meetings rich in meaning, where the testimonies of the pain of young people are intertwined with their concrete commitment, with their ideas for development, with the desire to change the world starting from themselves. It is the baggage that will also be carried in the third Appointment of the Eagle. The city is chosen after months of discernment and prayer. After the earthquake of April 2009, the bishop of the city, Msgr. Giuseppe Molinari, visiting the Arsenal of Peace in Turin, leaves a reflection on Ernesto's diary: "The miracles of the Sermig and the Arsenal of Peace in Turin, in Italy and in the world, cannot come from this little man. These "miracles" are already a response from God to Ernesto's dreams and expectations ".
And the World Aquila, on August 27th 2010, the feast of the Perdonanza and of San Celestino, is another "miracle": from the basilica of Collemaggio, heavily marked by the breaches of the earthquake, the requests for forgiveness of adults depart for the wounds inflicted to our world and the "I am" of young people who will work to repair them.
It is a "pact to change direction", that between young people and adults, which is sealed shortly after in front of 30,000 young people careful and careless of the rain: on October 16th 2010 in Turin the third World Appointment celebrates its second stage, with an appeal to a humanity that has lost meaning, ethics and direction. It is Ernesto Olivero who launches it: "You young people are made to not be afraid and not to be afraid ... You have been built for the good, created by God to bring his Kingdom among the people".
On October 4, 2014, an overflowing Piazza Plebiscito in Naples hosts more than 40,000 young people from every region of Italy and from different countries of the world for the 4th World Youth Peace Meeting. An "Appointment with the conscience" in which to dialogue, reflect, pray, sing, dance on the theme of conscience. Already the previous evening, Friday 3 October 2014, in the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples we were more than a thousand to pray for the youth of the world and for all those who are persecuted because of their ideas and their faith.
On May 13, 2017 in Padua, more than 50,000 young people came from every region of Italy and from different countries of the world for the 5th World Youth Peace Meeting.
On May 11, 2019 in Bergamo the 6th World Appointment.