More than 200,000 young people from 155 countries are expected for the 34th World Youth Day (WYD) at Panama, planned from January 22-27. One thousand indigenous young people from five Continents will take part in their special WYD (which will begin three days earlier, from January 16-19).
Such are the numbers, which are evolving, said Giancarlo Candanedo, spokesman of the WYDs, to “Vatican News” in Italian on January 8, 2019.
“How are we preparing ourselves? — First of all by prayer. We must not forget that it’s a very great challenge for a small country like ours. The Holy Father wished to give this responsibility, not only to Panama but to the whole of Central America and to all its episcopate,” explained the spokesman.
“Last Sunday, we showed the Popemobile in public, made by a group of Panamanians of the city,” continued Giancarlo Candanedo. Another novelty is a Rosary made by poor Bethlehem families, which will be included in the pilgrim’s kit. One and a half million have been made.
The Panamanian government has taken an active part in the preparation of the Day. “For the first time in the history of the WYDs, the government has created an administrative structure, able to help us in the organization of the event. They have made things easier. It’s a help for the Church,” stressed Candanedo.
In regard to the participation of Italian young people, they will be numerous, affirmed Father Michele Falabretti, head of the national office of the Youth Ministry of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Despite the difficulties, our numbers have surpassed our expectations; almost 1,300 young people will participate. It’s an important number because to go to the other end of the world in this season isn’t easy,” he said.
In numerous dioceses, for instance, in Bologna, they are organizing meetings to coincide with the WYD, in the course of which young people will be able to celebrate and share moments of reflection and prayer, “ he added.