WASHINGTON (OSV News) — 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.
“Our country is very much looking forward to this pilgrimage,” said Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, which oversees the U.S. involvement in WYD. Bishop Barron, along with 60 other U.S. bishops, will be accompanying young people to Lisbon.
In a statement, Bishop Barron described WYD as “a wonderful occasion for young adults to have a significant encounter with Jesus Christ in the company of the universal Church.”
The event is “also a moment when the Holy Father and the Church’s leadership get an opportunity to listen to the young people present, teach and form them in the Gospel, and ultimately send them towards their vocation and mission in the world,” he said.
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 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 Barron, who will then lead a Holy Hour with Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas 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).