From 1-6 August this year, World Youth Day will take place in Lisbon, where young people from all over the world will come together for a festival of faith with Pope Francis. An estimated three million people attended WYD 2016 in Poland. WYD is in equal parts a pilgrimage, a celebration of the youth, an expression of the universal Church, and an intense moment of evangelisation for young adults. While its Catholic identity is clearly evident, WYD opens its doors to everyone, no matter how close to or distant from the Church they are.
At WYD, over the course of a week, young people from all over the world are welcomed, mainly in public (gymnasiums, schools, pavilions …) and parish facilities or family homes. The highlights of the week are the celebrations for 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. The theme for WYD 2023 chosen by Pope Francis is ‘Mary arose and went with haste’ (Lk 1:39).
Our Lady of the Visitation, you who arose and went with haste towards the mountain to meet Elizabeth, lead us also to meet all those who await us to deliver them the living Gospel: Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord!
We will go in a hurry, with no distraction or delay, but with readiness and joy. We will go peacefully, because those who take Christ take peace, and welldoing is the best wellbeing.
Our Lady of the Visitation, with your inspiration, this World Youth Day will be the mutual celebration of the Christ we take, as You once did. Make it a time of testimony and sharing, fraternization, and giving thanks, each of us looking for the others who always wait.
With you, we will continue on this path of gathering, so that our world will gather as well, in fraternity, justice and peace. Help us, Our Lady of the Visitation, to bring Christ to everyone, obeying the Father, in the love of the Spirit!
Earlier this year, Pope Francis issued a message to all young people preparing for WYD in Lisbon. He said, “any young person who goes to WYD, goes because, deep down, he or she has the thirst to participate, to share, to tell their experience and receive the experience of others. They are thirsty for horizons.
“At this meeting, during this WYD, learn to always look towards the horizon, to always look beyond. Don’t put up a wall in front of your life. Walls close you in, the horizon makes you grow. Always look at the horizon with your eyes, but look, above all, with your heart. Open your heart to other cultures, to other boys, to other girls, who are also at this World Youth Day.
“Get ready for this: to open horizons, to open your hearts. And thank you for having already registered so far in advance. Let’s hope others will follow your example. May God bless you, may the Virgin take care of you. Pray for me, for I pray for you. And don’t forget: ‘no’ to walls, ‘yes’ to horizons.”