This coming August 1-6 will be the celebration of World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. Many believe that World Youth Day is the most beautiful invention of Pope John Paul II! In 1984, the Pope proposed a gathering on Palm Sunday, in Rome, to celebrate the Youth Jubilee of the Holy Year of Redemption 1983-1984. 60,000 pilgrims were expected, however 250,000 young people from different countries around the world attended the event! The event proved so popular that the Pope established a regular World Youth Day which has been held every two or three years in locations all over the world, from Manila to Sydney to Denver to Buenos Aires. World Youth Day (WYD) gathers young people from all over the world, along with the Pope. It is a pilgrimage, a celebration of youth, an expression of the universal Church, and an intense moment of evangelization for the youth world. It brings together millions of young people to celebrate their faith and sense of belonging to the Church. Although its Catholic identity is clear, WYD opens its doors to everyone, no matter how close to or distant from the Church they are. It aims to provide all participants with an experience of the Universal Church, fostering a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It is a stimulus to the faith, hope, and charity of the entire host country community. World Youth Day also seeks to promote peace, unity and fraternity among peoples and nations around the world, fostered by the prayer and work of the young people who gather and are then sent out as missionary disciples.
Over the course of a week, young people from all over the world are welcomed, mainly in public (gymnasiums, schools, etc.) and parish facilities or family homes. In addition to the moments of prayer, sharing and leisure, the young people participate in various initiatives organized by the WYD team, highlighted the celebrations at which the Pope is present, such as the welcoming and opening ceremony, the Way of the Cross, the vigil and, on the last day, the closing Mass.
Let us pray for the success of the coming World Youth Day, especially that the young people attending may grow and be strengthened in their faith and in their relationship with Jesus Christ, that they might know and follow the vocation the Lord has chosen for them and that they may bring his light and presence to all they encounter. Let us pray that there will be minimal travel delays and disruptions for those coming from all over the world and that everyone will be safe and protected from violence, terrorism, and disease. Finally, pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, that he will have good health and strength to inspire the young people attending to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
I don’t know of any young people attending World Youth Day in Lisbon this year, but I do know that we have an active Young Professionals Ministry and an active Youth Ministry program here at St. Margaret of Scotland that I am very proud of! Our Young Professionals (aged 20-30-somethings) meet weekly for Bible Study, socials, and other events. Our Youth Ministry (junior high and high school) meets during the year for faith formation, bible study, service projects, leading music at Mass, and other events. All the young people of St. Margaret have the opportunity to grow in their faith and meet others to grow in friendship and faith. You are welcome to join us! If any young person in the parish is looking for an invitation, be in touch with me and I will make sure you are connected!