How did you get to Ultra? How did you feel? Is it a suitable place for a priest? These are questions I have been asked by a large number of people ... Yes, I went to the Ultra Festival, as I also did last year, along with about 50 young volunteers from all over the country. In the Gospel we see that even Jesus was asked such questions and he answered in parables. I want to answer with three stories because stories are more convincing than theories.
The first: I notice a girl sitting alone on the street, as if abandoned. I approach her, find out her name is Bethany, that she's Irish, alone and ill. I bring her water, take her under my arm, and accompany her to the First Aid Tent where they take care of her.
The second: 5 Jewish kids from Israel stop to drink water with us. When they notice I am a priest, they ask me if I believe that the Jews are still the Chosen People. I answer yes, because God does not betray His word. They ask questions about Israel's history of Salvation. In the end we recite the famous prayer "Shema Yisrael" together, and one of them invites me to go to Israel one day.
The third one: an Italian guy comes to me, kisses my hands, embraces me and thanks me for being there. I make the sign of the Cross on his forehead and then he moves on. There were many other episodes like this.
Pope Francis asks us to leave monasteries and sacristies to create the so-called "culture of encounter." For me, it means being where the young are. At Ultra, we did not teach doctrine, but we put it into practice: we gave water to drink to the thirsty. With some, we also prayed.
Finally: is Ultra a suitable place for a priest? I remember the episode of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan. Today for us Westerners, it's not a problem, but at that time it was something unthinkable and offensive, yet Jesus broke every taboo and social expectation to give living water to the Samaritan. That's why I went to Ultra.