Around 12,000 pilgrims are expected to gather in Cebu this month for the country’s biggest gathering of Catholic youth.
Hosting the National Youth Day for the first time, the Archdiocese of Cebu wants to show that it is ready to host the huge event to be held from April 23 to 28.
“We are anticipating a wonderful event here in our archdiocese,” Archbishop Jose Palma said in a press conference in Cebu City on Friday.
“Let us pray that this would be peaceful, joyful and fruitful and full of promise for our young people,” he said.
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia will be present starting April 27 where he will dialogue with young people.
More than 30 members of the Philippine bishops conference led by its president, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, also pledged attendance.
While 11,692 pilgrims formally registered, the figure could reach to as many as 18,000 with the participation of priests, nuns, volunteers, and unregistered locals especially at the concluding Mass to be presided over by Archbishop Caccia.
The youth pilgrims will be staying in more than 3,000 host families and common spaces like seminaries and convent dormitories.
Frankel Gerard Margallo, Cebu archdiocesan youth coordinator, said around 90 percent of the pilgrims are coming from different dioceses outside Cebu.
One of the highlights of the five-day gathering is the youth festival which will be held across Metro Cebu.
Hosted in nine locations, the youth festival will engage the pilgrims in various expressions of art, music, and culture.
Various activities will center on the theme “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your word”.
“This will be a festive, formative and prayerful gathering,” said Fr. Mark Rommel Barneso, NYD Steering Team Leader.
Cebu’s hosting of the event also coincides with the Church’s observance of the Year of the Youth, which is part of the CBCP’s preparation for the fifth centenary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.