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BY Tim Drake
Slowly, the news from Madrid is making its way elsewhere. Just over a year from now - August 11-15, hundreds of thousands of youth from around the world will gather throughout Spain for the Days in the Diocese, a cultural exchange that takes place leading up to World Youth Day, which will be celebrated August 16-21, 2011 in Madrid. This is the second time in the event’s history that it will be held in Spain.
Pope Benedict XVI was the first to register. According to organizers, some 600,000 youth from around the world have already expressed an interest in registering. Because the event is taking place in Europe, some organizers expect as many as 2 million youth to attend.
Steve Kerekes, president of Youth in Europe, one of several tour companies specializing in youth pilgrimages and World Youth Day, says that approximately 2,000 youth have registered through their organization, including groups as large as 100 in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb. and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
While event planning is still taking shape, some of the events are already in place. The Opening Mass will take place in Cibeles Square on August 16th. The Papal Welcome will occur on August 17th. The Way of the Cross will happen on August 19th, followed by the pilgrimage to the Cuatro Vientos Airport grounds,southwest of the city, where the evening vigil will take place on August 20th, and the final Papal Mass will occur on August 21st.
Communications from Spain have been slow in coming to the English-speaking world, but that hasn’t stopped youth from registering. As it’s a European WYD, naturally the largest number of attendees will be from European countries, with Spain in the lead. To date, some 120,000 Italians, 70,000 French, 50,000 Polish youth, and 25,000 Americans have announced their plans to register.
In other WYD news, organizers announced that the 500-year-old monstrance of Arfe, from the Diocese of Toledo, will be used in one of the WYD events. The vigil with Pope Benedict on August 20th will end with Eucharistic Adoration utilizing the nine-foot-tall gold and silver monstrance. The monstrance dates from 1524, when German silversmith Henry of Arfe completed it after nine years of work.
As it’s a larger city, organizers do not expect nearly the same transportation difficulties as when WYD was last in Europe, in Cologne, Germany.