What is WYD?
World Youth Day is an international meeting of youth from all over the world who gather together in one place with their catechists, priests, bishops and the pope in order to profess faith in Jesus Christ.
Who began WYD?
The founder and first host of World Youth Day was St. John Paul II. He gathered youth in Rome (1984, 1985, 2000), Buenos Aires (1987), Santiago de Compostela (1989), Czestochowa (1991), Denver (1993), Manila (1995), Paris (1997) and Toronto (2002).
WYD – the Pope and the Youth. Together.
When St. John Paul II passed away, Pope Benedict XVI became the successor of this beautiful dialogue between the Church and the youth as well as a great advocate of World Youth Day. He presided over the meetings in Cologne (2005), Sydney (2008) and Madrid (2011). Thanks to the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI, Christ has been constantly preached and adored by the youth around the world, and the Church has been able to convey its youthful and joyful image, which is so necessary in the contemporary world.
In 2013 (in Rio de Janeiro), Pope Francis met with the youth. He also announced that the next meeting would take place in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.
The first two meetings (1984 and 1985) were organized on the occasion of the Extraordinary Redemption Jubilee (1983-1984) and the International Year of the Youth (1985), but were not yet called World Youth Day. These encounters provided the Holy Father with an incentive to undertake the blessed initiative which continues to this day.
December 20th, 1985 is regarded as the day that World Youth Day was established. While exchanging Christmas greetings with Cardinals and the Roman Curia employees, John Paul II expressed his wish to hold the World Youth Day every year on Palm Sunday as a diocesan meeting, and every two or three years as an international meeting in a place appointed by him.
Community, Formation and Joy of Faith
The established objective of World Youth Days is to experience the great community of the Universal Church, listen to the Word of God, receive the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist as well as joyfully proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour.
Symbols of the WYD: the Cross and the Icon
The meetings are accompanied by two particular gifts given by St. John Paul II. They are the World Youth Day Cross and the Icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani. These symbols are not only with the youth during WYD, but they continuously circle the globe, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people for prayer and adoration every day.
On Palm Sunday, April 13th, 2014, the symbols were passed on to the Polish youth in Rome by the Holy Father, and the pilgrimage of the WYD Cross and Icon began in the dioceses of Poland as well as several countries of Eastern Europe.
WYD – Thematic Meetings
Each WYD has a theme on which the youth meditate when gathering in their language groups and countries. The theme is chosen by the Holy Father. During the international WYDs, the theme is elaborated on during meetings spread over three days called the catechesis triduum.
How long is WYD?
WYD is a multiday event. Currently there are two essential components: the first is “Days in Dioceses” during which the youth stay in different areas of the host country; the second is the “Central Events” which last for one week in the primary host city.
What is the objective of “Days in Dioceses”?
The structure of “Days in Dioceses” depends on the characteristics and lifestyle of each host diocese. It is a time for friendship, fellowship, integration, and familiarizing with the culture of the region. It includes tourist trips, common games, and social involvement in various works and projects prepared by the organizers.
What is the structure of the Central Events of WYD?
Having finished “Days in Dioceses”, all participants go to the host diocese chosen by the Holy Father to experience the central events. The youth gather together for the period of a week in the host city. On Monday they arrive, while on Tuesday they participate in the opening ceremony. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they take part in catechesis and the Youth Festival. On Saturday they make a pilgrimage to the place of Vigil and take part in the evening meeting with the Pope. On Sunday they take part in the Final Mass which completes the WYD. The Main Events are accompanied by special encounter zones; the Zone of Reconciliation and the Vocations Center.
Participation in WYD takes about two weeks, but one should remember that the meeting requires a period of spiritual and organizational preparation. That is why, the real period of WYD begins when the decision is made to participate, and finishes when the mission resulting from WYD is completed.
How many people participate in WYD?
Typically the meetings enjoy a large body of followers. On average, several hundred thousand youth take part through the whole week. However, around the time of the Saturday vigil with the pope, the number of participants exceeds one million or more. So far the greatest meetings took place in Manila in the Philippines (1995) with four million pilgrims and in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (2013) where Copacabana housed over three million people. In Europe, the most numerous event was in Rome in 2000 when 2,180,000 young people joined St. John Paul II in prayer.
The Youth and Those Accompanying Them.
Apart from the youth, many bishops, priests, monks and nuns, consecrated people, clerics, novices as well as young teachers and university professors attend WYD. During the last WYD in Europe (Madrid 2011) there were 800 bishops, 14,000 priests and several thousand of friars.