December 5, 2017 // Diocese

Registration opens for World Youth Day in Panama

The Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, invites all youth and young adults from the diocese to attend a World Youth Day pilgrimage Jan. 19-28, 2019, in Panama City, the home of the famous Panama Canal and the Gamboa Rainforest. Registration for the pilgrimage is open on the World Youth Day website at

The World Youth Day Website

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend’s delegation to World Youth Day will consist of 75 pilgrims, including Bishop Rhoades, priests, religious, diocesan WYD staff, young adult pilgrims, youth pilgrims and chaperones. This experience is targeted at those ages 16 to 35. Young adults in their 20s and early 30s are especially encouraged to attend the international World Youth Day events.

The theme of the pilgrimage is taken from Luke, when Mary, faced with what seemed like an impossible task of becoming the mother of Christ, simply said: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Anyone discerning the trip is encouraged to open themselves to that same prayer and ask God’s will regarding their attendance on this pilgrimage.

Travel arrangements

Travel arrangements for the trip will be facilitated through Dube Travel: The total approximate cost is $2,949, which includes airfare, 4-star rated hotels, breakfasts, several dinners, tours and the cost of World Youth Day registration itself. A $300 deposit must accompany a pilgrim’s registration by Jan. 5, 2018. Afterward, payment installments must be made in January, March, July and a final payment in October. More information will be provided to pilgrims upon completion of registration paperwork.

The price of a WYD pilgrimage is often seen as one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Young persons are encouraged to not let the payment schedule be a deterrent from discerning whether or not God is calling them to make this pilgrimage. In order to make past World Youth Day pilgrimages, previous pilgrims have raised the money to go by doing fundraisers or asking for birthday and Christmas money to be applied to the trip. The fundraising process itself can actually be spiritually enriching, as it helps one to see how God chooses to provide. More fundraising ideas are located on the diocesan World Youth Day page.

History of World Youth Day

World Youth Day started in December 1985 in Rome when Pope John Paul II instituted these international gatherings of youth and young adults for the purpose of prayer, worship and celebration of the Catholic faith.

World Youth Day celebrations continue to be an important part of the life of the Catholic Church for three main reasons.

Reason No. 1 is to celebrate and put trust in the young. Youth and young adults are not only the future of the Church, but are active participants in the Catholic Church today. World Youth Day brings together young men and women from the four corners of the globe, helps to prepare them to bring about Christ’s mission in the world and equips them to be missionary disciples. This isn’t just bringing young people together for a party, it’s a pivotal time when the Holy Father calls them forth on a great mission of faith.

Reason No. 2 is the act of making a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey that parallels one’s journey toward our heavenly home. It is a time to leave homes, families and comforts to visit a sacred place. Since ancient times, people of faith have made great journeys – from Abraham and Moses to the early Christians, who traveled “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) to spread the Gospel. Throughout the centuries, pilgrims have made journeys to Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, Rome and many resting places of the saints. This World Youth Day pilgrimage, seeking God through the experience of a truly Universal Church, in solidarity with the Holy Father and millions of young people, is an essential component to the World Youth Day experience.

Reason No. 3 to consider attending World Youth Day is simply to encounter the Catholic community. Modern technology ensures that young people are always in contact with one another: However, World Youth Day goes beyond “being in contact” and gives youth and young adults a personal encounter with the international Catholic community they cannot get through their phones or computers and ultimately draws their attention and openness to the ultimate encounter with God.

In this way, World Youth Day becomes a great opportunity to become a transformative event, to become moments of grace that pilgrims will use to equip themselves for the great work that awaits them in the everyday moments of their lives. Amidst the sights, sounds and food of a different country and culture, there will be opportunities to draw closer to an encounter with Jesus alongside Bishop Rhoades, local priests and others fellow pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.


The 2019 World Youth Day pilgrimage will culminate in Panama City, Panama, the home of the famous Panama Canal, which accounts for about one-third of the entire country’s economy. Nestled in between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the country of Panama is similar in size to the state of Indiana. Spanish is the official language, approximately 80 percent of the population is Catholic and the temperatures in January, when the pilgrimage will take place, reach the upper 80s and mid-90s.

Before the beginning of World Youth Day, pilgrims can expect to walk the modern city’s streets to see and experience some of the historic Catholic influence in churches and other modern structures. Pilgrims will tour the canal, Casco Viejo and the Gamboa Rainforest: Mass will be celebrated in this beautiful national park.

When the official activities of World Youth Day begin, pilgrims will participate in group catechesis each morning, followed by evening cultural events, including a youth festival with concerts, talks, exhibits and music at select locations around Panama. The Holy Father will arrive in Panama and the millions of pilgrims will join him for Mass and Stations of the Cross.

A memorable part of any World Youth Day is the miles-long hike to the evening vigil outside, where pilgrims will camp overnight. On the Sunday morning following, Pope Francis will celebrate the closing Mass and diocesan pilgrims will leave for the U.S. the following day.

To register, or for more information regarding World Youth Day, visit or call 260-399-1447.

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