In a little more than a year, many in the diocese will make a pilgrimage to Lisbon, Portugal, to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis.
At the meeting, John Pratt, Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry, informed those gathered about the purpose of the international celebration of the Church.
“World Youth Day is a gathering of young people from all over the world,” Pratt said. “Hundreds of thousands of young people gather together at the request of the Holy Father to celebrate our united faith in Jesus Christ. It’s an extremely powerful experience.”
He also explained the difference between a retreat and a pilgrimage.
“It’s also a pilgrimage: a journey in which we go someplace new to encounter Christ,” he said. “One of the things that I learned going to World Youth Day in 2016 is that a pilgrimage is very different from a retreat. A retreat you kind of take a step back and rest and encounter God in quiet, and a pilgrimage you experience God through an arduous journey.”
“It’s a truly life-changing experience, and it’s hard to come back not changed.”
Brooke Kostielney, a representative from Verso Ministries, said that Portugal is an ideal host country for the pilgrimage, and added that the Portuguese tradition of exploration and discovery only adds to a central tenet of the celebration.
She calls the experience “an opportunity for young people to see and explore and discover the world for themselves.”
“There’s a rich Catholic history in Portugal,” she continued. “For instance, St. Anthony, who you might be familiar with – and many think St. Anthony of Padua, Italy, right? St. Anthony was actually born and baptized in Lisbon, so they lay claim to St. Anthony and the locals actually call him St. Anthony of Lisbon.”
She added that Portugal “has a beautiful, vibrant culture. And so, from the music to the food, to the architecture and art, our pilgrims will have an opportunity to really dive in and experience this new culture as a part of this holistic pilgrimage journey.”
The theme for the 2023 World Youth Day celebration comes from the Gospel of Luke: “Mary arose and went with haste.”
Pratt says that this theme keeps in mind the heart and mindset of the Blessed Mother, who went to the aid of her cousin Elizabeth at the Visitation.
He also told those gathered about the history of World Youth Day.
“In 1984, Pope John Paul II invited youth from around the world to gather in Rome, and so on Palm Sunday they did. The next year, 1985, was the official launch of World Youth Day.”
Pratt mentioned that there have been a total of 15 World Youth Day celebrations since 1986.
“Lisbon will be hosting this, it’s about an hour and a half from Fátima and so our pilgrimage will also include a stop at this wonderful apparition site of the Blessed Mother.”
Pilgrims will depart from the United States on July 28, 2023. From there, they will arrive in Lisbon and tour the city. On the following day, they will travel to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima. On July 31, they will visit the Monastery of St. Mary of the Victory in Batalha, as well as the Monastery of Alcobaça.
On that Tuesday, pilgrims have the opportunity to explore Lisbon, and will celebrate opening Mass with their fellow international pilgrims. The following day, they can partake in morning catechesis, shows, music and other special events. They will also welcome Pope Francis to Lisbon.
Through the rest of the week, the pilgrims will observe the Stations of the Cross with the pope, sleep under the stars and celebrate Mass with the Holy Father.
The diocesan World Youth Day package features spiritual and logistical preparation materials, a pilgrim kit, hotel accommodations, round-trip airfare, most meals, a fundraising kit and much more.
The cost of the trip is estimated at $4,525 per person at this time. Diocesan scholarships for pilgrims are available, with an application window of June 1 through Aug. 15.
More information on diocesan plans for World Youth Day can be found at www.diocesefwsb.org/wyd.
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