The United States will be sending more than 12,000 youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, to Panama for the thirty-fourth annual celebration of World Youth Day (WYD). The global event, taking place January 22-27, 2019, in and around Panama City, is expected to draw over 1 million people from all 6 continents.
“The bishops of the United States and I joyfully walk with the young people and young adults of our country as fellow pilgrims,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and the WYD liaison for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In all, 32 bishops from the U.S. are planning to attend the global event.
Bishop Caggiano will be one of 20 bishops who also have been invited by the Vatican to serve as English- and Spanish-language catechists in Panama, giving reflections to groups of pilgrims on the 2019 WYD theme, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). Other U.S. catechist bishops include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.
Pope Francis arrives in Panama on Wednesday, January 23, with a special welcome ceremony planned for Thursday, January 24. He will also preside at a Via Crucis prayer service (January 25), a candlelight vigil and adoration (January 26), and the Closing Mass (January 27), where he will announce the location of the next international WYD in 2022.
While the pope and the WYD pilgrims meet in Panama this January, several dioceses and communities across the United States will be hosting “stateside celebrations” concurrent with the WYD events for thousands of young people in the U.S. There will be major gatherings for youth and young adults in California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State, and a multi-diocesan flagship event in Washington, D.C., called “Panama in the Capital” with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save the Children Action Network, and many others. Details of these events can be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/stateside-wyd-celebrations.cfm
“We pray in solidarity with the thousands of young people across the United States who are celebrating this experience digitally and stateside in their local communities,” noted Bishop Caggiano on the connection of the Panama pilgrims and those experiencing WYD at home.
On Wednesday, January 23, the USCCB will collaborate with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and the Knights of Columbus on a special one-day event called “Fiat Festival,” to be held at the Figali (Amador) Convention Center in Panama from 3:00 to 10:00 pm ET. The event will feature music, keynotes, panels, video, prayer, and a closing Holy Hour with Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinal Sean O’Malley. It will be live-streamed through FOCUS Catholic’s YouTube Channel.
For more information about World Youth Day and the U.S. engagement, go to www.wydusa.org and follow the USCCB’s social media channels throughout WYD.