A press release issued today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that, for the first time ever, individuals have the opportunity to make a virtual pilgrimage and participate in the youth day from the comfort of their very own homes.

Using the latest social media technology, the conference's communications department created a Facebook application and Fan Page, as well as a Web site for non-Facebook users (www.virtualworldyouthday.org), all of which will allow individuals to “create an avatar and use it to participate in a virtual pilgrimage.”   

In addition, the Facebook Fan Page will allow participants to “view live video feed from Madrid, follow key Twitter feeds and blogs and upload photos and videos.”

The event will be completely interactive, with those in Madrid, both attendees as well as USCCB representatives, posting blogs live from the events, the statement explained.

Google map will provide information relating where pilgrims are traveling from, as well as what they are doing once they get to Madrid.

According to the press release, nearly 900 people have already created their avatar, ready for the virtual pilgrimage.

World Youth Day 2011 will be held Aug. 16-21, in Madrid.