From Staff and Wire Reports
When Pope Francis arrives in Lisbon for World Youth Day 2023, there will be plenty of pilgrims from the U.S. ready to greet him — close to 29,000.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced July 24 that more than 28,600 individuals, most between the ages of 18 and 25, and over 60 U.S bishops will be on hand for the Aug. 1-6 gathering. While registration numbers have not yet been finalized (and in fact are rising, said the bishops’ conference), the U.S. is set to have one of the five largest delegations at WYD.
From the Diocese of Dallas, around 1,000 pilgrims are making the trip to Portugal, joining Bishop Edward J. Burns who is serving as the USCCB episcopal liaison. In Lisbon, Bishop Burns will be helping lead catechetical sessions as well as participating in an evening of Eucharistic Adoration with the USA National Pilgrim Gathering. At a send-forth Mass for diocesan WYD pilgrims July 23 at St. Rita Catholic Community, Bishop Burns told the pilgrims it would be a “joy to be celebrating” with them in Lisbon.
“As your shepherd, I must tell you…all of you from this diocese truly make me proud with the wonderful representation of youth and young adults who are going to Lisbon to celebrate this World Youth Day,” Bishop Burns said. “Be assured of my prayers for your safe journey. I pray that the Lord will send forth His holy angels to watch over you in your journey, but also that it will be such a fulfilling opportunity to encounter Our Lord Jesus Christ in a very special way.”
U.S. pilgrims will stay in parishes, campuses, homes and hotels around Lisbon during the WYD week, taking part in prayer, liturgies, daily catechesis, concerts, presentations, dialogue, service and networking with young adults from around the world.
More than 35 U.S. bishops, including Bishop Burns, will lead daily catechetical “Rise Up!” sessions.
U.S. pilgrims will gather Aug. 2 for an outdoor evening gathering organized by the USCCB in Lisbon’s Parque da Quinta das Conchas. Music and testimony by young adults will be followed by a keynote address from Bishop Robert Barron, who will then lead a Holy Hour with Bishop Burns as part of the USCCB’s National Eucharistic Revival initiative.
Pope Francis will join the WYD pilgrims Aug. 3 for a welcome ceremony in the city center. He will preside at a Way of the Cross Aug. 4 and a prayer vigil Aug. 5, and then celebrate the WYD closing Mass Aug. 6, with an anticipated crowd of 1 million or more.
The USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth recently collaborated with WYD organizers in Lisbon and U.S.-based Oregon Catholic Press on the English version of the official WYD hymn, “Feel the Rush in the Air,” which was released earlier this month.
Inaugurated by St. John Paul II in 1986, WYD officially takes place every year as a “Global Celebration of Young People,” which is now celebrated on Christ the King Sunday. In addition, a major international event is held every 2 – 4 years in a different location around the world.
Past WYDs have taken place in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1987); Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1989); Czestochowa, Poland (1991); Denver (1993); Manila, Philippines (1995); Paris (1997); Rome (2000); Toronto (2002); Cologne, Germany (2005); Sydney (2008); Madrid (2011); Rio de Janeiro (2013); Krakow, Poland (2016); and Panama City (2019).
OSV News contributed to this report.