Though the one-year anniversary of World Youth Day 2013 isn’t until July 22, the festivities have already begun in Rio de Janeiro.

On July 15, Cardinal Orani João Tempesta celebrated the first of 12 days of WYD commemoration events, with the theme ‘Memory and Mission.’ The event included the unveiling of 80 near-lifesize WYD photos, displayed across Rio’s ‘Largo da Carioca’ city square.

“The goal is to reawaken the beauty of World Youth Day,” said Cardinal Orani in Portuguese. “I’m sure many who will pass through here lived WYD in one way or another – whether from their homes, in their parishes or on Copacabana Beach.”

Nearly 1,000 clergy, pilgrims and volunteers were on hand for the event, and several thousand more people pass through Largo da Carioca on a daily basis. The pictures capture some of WYD’s greatest moments, from Pope Francis’ arrival at Rio’s Galeão Antonio Carlos Jobim Airport to his celebration of WYD’s closing Mass at Copacabana. The exhibition will be on display through July 27, and move to other parts of the city after that.

 

Though in talking to people in Rio it is evident the memory of WYD is alive in the archdiocese and across the city, just what is the mission of WYD that lives on and what will be celebrated these 12 days?

Speaking in Portuguese, I interviewed Cardinal Tempesta, clergy and WYD volunteers this morning to find out:

“What we saw during WYD remains in us, and I’m certain we’re going to continue living it in our hearts and works every day. The world can be a better place when youth open themselves to living the Gospel.” – Cardinal Tempesta

 

“The goal of this exhibit and our mission is to evangelize. Pope Francis doesn’t miss the opportunity to evangelize. We want to give continuity to this happiness, and continue going as the Pope told us, as God’s people. We can’t lose the opportunity.” – Father Roberto Lopes, Archdiocesan Episcopal Vicar for Consecrated Life

 

“I want to speak the Word of God to everybody, from the Church to the street. For example, we’re having a large event here in Quinta de Boa Vista, inviting all of the poor from Rio de Janeiro to pray with us. It’s a large mission, made of small individual missions for parishes and chapels during these two weeks.” – Matheus Alves Lunes, 19, St. Andrew Parish in Rio’s St. Christopher Neighborhood

 

“We interpret it like the slogan of WYD, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19).’ When WYD ended, our WYD began. Our vision is that the Church’s youth can make a difference, and we’re not alone. You could see it there in Copacabana — we’re one Catholic Church, and we want to let the world know.” – Suelen de Almeida, 24 and Maryana Assis, 20, Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of All Saints, and members of Rio de Janeiro’s New Alliance Charismatic Community