U.S. Youth Prepare for World Youth Day

From Georgia to Wyoming, teens are ready to celebrate.

(photo: Wikipedia)

Read the Register’s “World Youth Day, Here We Come!” to see how other young people have been preparing for the big event.

ATLANTA (EWTN News) — In record-breaking numbers, thousands of young people from dioceses all over the U.S. are preparing to head overseas to celebrate World Youth Day in Madrid from Aug. 16-21.

More than 1 million people are expected at the final Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on the event’s last day.

“It’s a great sense of unity with people that you have nothing in common with,” 22-year-old Grace Lee from Atlanta told the archdiocesan paper the Georgia Bulletin.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta is sending 90 local men and women to join the more than 29,000 young people from the U.S. attending the global youth event. 

In Wyoming, 83 teens and chaperones headed out on Aug. 8 for their 18-day pilgrimage to visit churches and monasteries in Spain before meeting up with their peers in Madrid.

Seventeen-year-old Genevieve Smith told the Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle that she looks forward to connecting with other Catholic young people across the globe, since a “lot of time we feel secluded from the rest of the world.”

Nine young people from St. Louis are set to visit shrines in Lourdes, France, and Barcelona, Spain, on a 17-day pilgrimage before heading to World Youth Day.

Local priest Father James Theby told the St. Louis Review that he is excited for the teens to witness the cultural differences among young Catholics from other nations.

“I hope that they’ll get the experience of the universal Church and that their faith is much bigger than just us here,” he said.

The Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, is finalizing plans for 21 pilgrims, including seminarians, high-school and college students, led by local priest Father Brent Lingle and Andrea Jenson, assistant diocesan director of youth and young-adult ministry.

“Any time that we can get away from home and experience our faith is an opportunity for growth,” said Jenson of the group’s Aug. 11-25 pilgrimage.

“World Youth Day in particular is known for miraculous things happening as well as deep conversions taking place, strengthening of faith, finding of someone’s vocation, and an opportunity to see how universal the Catholic Church is,” Jensen told the Sioux City Catholic Globe.

In the Philadelphia Archdiocese, more than 200 young people will journey to France, Portugal and Spain on a 12-day pilgrimage led by Bishop Michael Fitzgerald.

While thousands of teens are traveling abroad for the global youth event, others will celebrate by watching World Youth Day at home with their parish community.

Some 500 people from around 20 parishes in Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas are coming together for the Colorado Connection to World Youth Day event to be held Aug. 20-21 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greeley, Colo.

Local priest Father Ron Weissbeck organized the event and also developed a faith-based curriculum for the young people to prepare for World Youth Day, in order to help them fully participate.