July 20, 2023  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

Nearly 100 youth, young adults and adults, including clergy from the tri-county Archdiocese of Los Angeles will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage, traveling to Lisbon, Portugal, with a quarter of a million Catholics and the Holy Father Pope Francis to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD) 2023 for the first time after the pandemic, August 1-6. The pilgrims will receive a send-off blessing from Archbishop José H.  Gomez on Sunday, July 23 during the 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

“In these troubling times, when our human family, already tested by the trauma of the pandemic, is racked by the tragedy of war, Mary shows to all of us, and especially to you, young people like herself, the path of proximity and encounter,” said Pope Francis in a message to young people. “I hope and I firmly believe that the experience many of you will have in Lisbon [this] August will represent a new beginning for you, the young, and – with you – for humanity as a whole.”

Since Pope John Paul II announced the institution of WYD on December 1985, with the first official WYD held in 1986, it has become not just the Catholic Church’s biggest event, but also the world’s largest gathering of young people. WYD is a transformative pilgrimage experience, targeting those ages 16 to 35, offering youth and young adults the opportunity to deepen their faith as they celebrate their Catholic identity with peers from around the world.

“Thousands of young people from all walks of life and from different languages and cultures will come together at World Youth Day in Lisbon, shoulder to shoulder, with one voice boldly proclaiming their faith in God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” said Fr. Raymond Decipeda, who is traveling with a group of 29 pilgrims from St. John of God Parish that he pastors in Norwalk. “Following the example of ‘Mary, who arose and went in haste,’ to be of service to others, this huge gathering of young people of faith will create massive ripple effects and will be an impetus and catalyst of positive changes to all people of the world.”

The highlights of World Youth Day events include an August 3rd meeting of Pope Francis with college students of the Catholic Portuguese University followed by a meeting with young members of the pontifical organization founded by Pope Francis, Scholas Ocurrentes. On August 5th, young people will spend time with the Pope at an evening prayer vigil at Parque do Tejo (Tejo Park) after he leads a Rosary prayer with sick young people during a one-day visit to the Chapel of Apparitions of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in the town of Fatima (78 miles north of Lisbon), and the closing Mass the morning of August 6 at Tejo Park.

Recently in a video message directed to WYD pilgrims, Pope Francis said that he is ready to go and that his health will not keep him away. He also encouraged the young people preparing for the international event, not to listen to people who “reduce life to ideas” and have thus “lost the joy of life and the joy of encounter,” adding to “pray for them.”

The patron saints for this year’s edition include St. Sebastian, St. Antonio Galvao de Santana, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Pope John Paul II, Our Lady of Aparecida, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Chiara Badano and Blessed Carlo Acutis. For more information visit https://worldyouthday.com/.