MADRID, Spain, FEB. 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As a preparation for the upcoming World Youth Day in August, at least 300,000 youth are planning to visit various dioceses around Spain in the days preceding Benedict XVI’s arrival.
The “Days in the Dioceses” event will take place Aug. 11-15 in 63 Spanish dioceses, where young people from other countries will be able to spend time with their peers in preparation for the youth day.
This preparatory even began in Paris before the 1997 youth day, as a way of facilitating youth ministry in French dioceses, having the whole country welcome the pilgrims from other countries, and encouraging French young people to attend the activities with the Holy Father. The experience was so successful that it was repeated in subsequent World Youth Days in Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia.
Over 150,000 participants from 137 countries have already registered, and an estimated 300,000 youth will take part in the program.
The plan for those days may include: cultural activities, historical visits, moments for celebration, time for prayer and visits to shrines that make up the local religious identity.
Javier Igea, who is in charge of organizing this event, pointed out that this networking of young people is “sowing bonds of peace in the global village.”
An effort is being made in many places so that the accommodation of the participants is free.
Young people who come from countries with greater economic difficulties are guaranteed cost-free participation in this program. For example, the Diocese of Ciudad Real will be hosting 260 Haitians free of charge along with another 1,750 youth who will take part in the city’s program.
Some 250 young Puerto Ricans will gather in Corozal, in their own country, this weekend, for another event in preparation for World Youth Day.
They will walk two-by-two around the city, visiting children and the sick. Father Orlando Lugo of San Jose de Camuy explained: “We are going to begin the mission in Puerto Rico, because we understand it must begin here. This is the first meeting of this whole delegation.”
The Puerto Rican delegation will later travel to a town in the province of Toledo, Spain, where from Aug. 14 to Aug. 19 they will visit the elderly and the sick and will invite other young people from to take part in the youth day activities.
Roxana Zamot, 22, who belongs to the youth ministry leadership team in her parish, stated: “It is a unique experience where we will be missionizing and getting to know other people, other cultures. To take part with the Pope in the [World Youth Day] is the greatest thing that can happen to us as Christians and as young people.”
In another initiative to prepare youth for the event in Madrid, a competition has been convoked for journalistic works centered on the theme “Watchmen of the Future,” an expression with which John Paul II described young people in his last visit to Spain in 2003. A prize will be awarded for journalistic works published before May 1 that reflect what Madrid’s World Youth Day is and what it means.
As well, a new online competition, “Video Madrid,” is gathering the proposals of young people from around the world, who are being asked to do short videos to animate intervals between the main events of World Youth Day.
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On the Net:
Days in the Dioceses http://madrid11.com/en/days-in-the-diocese
World Youth Day events and competitions: http://madrid11.com