A very intense programme with the over two million youths who are expected to attend, World Youth Day is also the first big event for Pope Francis.
“This is an invitation to be with the Pope as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.” “We willingly and joyfully respond to this invitation.” Wherever the Church is, that is where we must be. The WYD broadens your horizons. It changes you and helps you grow in the faith. And so we are strengthened in our daily difficulties: at school, at work, at home and so on. The WYD leaves a permanent mark in the hearts of all the youths who’ve ever attended one, and we are certain that the same will happen here as well.” The speakers are Maria and Leandro, two young people from the Focolare in Rio de Janeiro. They are on location and actively involved in the preparations of this grand world event, but they express a commitment that involves the Focolare in various ways around the world.
What awaits the pilgrims who will be there on July 22-28? There are five main events planned for this pilgrimage:
- July 23: The World Youth Day Opening Mass in Copacabana.
- July 25: Welcoming Ceremony with the Pope on the shores of Copacabana, first encounter between Pope Francis and the millions of young people from five continents.
- July 26: Way of the Cross in Copacabanapresided by the Pope in the main park. The fourteen stations will retrace the path of Jesus with readings based on the great problems of today’s youth.
- July 27: Prayer Vigil with the Pope at the Fidei di Guaratiba Campus. Among the fifty artistic groups that will animate this prayer vigil, there will also be the Gen Rosso international band that will present its musical “Streetlight” involving two-hundred youths from the Fazenda da Esperanca and other communities. Gen Rosso has been on tour in Brazil since May 2013: seven cities and more than a thousand youths have been involved on stage, in the presentation of the show to another ten thousand spectators.
- July 28: The closing Mass at ten o’clock, celebrated by Pope Francis, marking the end of the World Youth Day and announcing the location of the next WYD.
WYD week will be filled with many other events: the Vocations Fair where the Youth for a United World will also have a stand, along with many others who will be gathered together at the Youth Festival with a variety of presentations expressing their willingness to share the way they live the faith.
Among the more than three-hundred official events, on July 24 there will be a show presentation on “The Life of Chiara Luce,” the young Italian who was recently beatified and is one of the “intercessors” of WYD. The show has been put together by young people from the Focolare in Rio together with friends from other Catholic Movements, other Christian Churches and others who do not know much about Christianity. There is even a young Buddhist girl. They see the show as an opportunity to acquaint the WYD participants with the experience of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano who shortly before dying wrote: “The youth are the future. I can’t run anymore, but I’d like to pass my witness on to them, like in the Olympics. You have only one life, it’s worth it to spend it well.” Cidade Novahas published Franz Coriasco’s book on Chiara Luce (“Dai tetti in giù”) in collaboration with Aid to the Church in Need. Five-hundred-thousand copies will be distributed to the young people at WYD. On July 25 a prayer vigil and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will be animated by the young people of the Focolare.
Pope Francis has many other activities scheduled for Brazil besides WYD. Among there is a visit to the Shrine of Aparecida; inauguration of the Integrated Care Campus at São Francisco da Tijuca Hospital, a centrer specializing in addiction recovery which is one of the main social focuses of the Rio WYD; a visit to a favela in northern Rio with the Varginha Community.