The Spanish capital has been preparing since Pope Benedict announced it as the location of the next World Youth Day when he was in Sydney in 2008. According to the organisers, up to now, more than 340,000 people in over 170 countries have registered, but the events are expected to draw a crowd of 1.5 million.
Yago de la Cierva, Executive Director of World Youth Day, has spoken of the final stages of preparation:
“In January, we closed the planning stage in order to move into the implementation of plans made in accordance with the Holy See and the three public administrations involved. In order to dedicate the necessary time and effort to all the preparations, we split the 7 departments into 16 working areas and many people have joined us, most of them as full-time or part-time volunteers.”
He wants the young people who come to receive “a warm welcome in Madrid and spend some unforgettable days here.”
Religious and cultural events and catecheses
Every World Youth Day is different and the tone of each one is set not only by the internationality of the multitudes that take part, but also by the host city and its distinctive culture. De la Cierva stated that WYD in Spain will also reflect its unique style in that “from a contextual point of view, Spain’s culture and religious spirit will take precedence, as everything should be rooted in the past twenty centuries of Catholic tradition of our country, and from a schedule standpoint, perhaps it is evident in the many activities that will be taking place at night.”
World Youth Day is divided into three sections: main events, the cultural program, and catecheses. The highlight of the events will be the final weekend, when Cuatro Vientos Air Base outside the capital will witness the celebration of the Youth Prayer Vigil and the Closing Mass. The WYD cultural program will provide over 300 activities including exhibitions in the Reina Sofia museum and the Museo Del Prado. The catecheses will take place between August 17th and 19th in over 200 churches in Madrid. Bishops from around the world will meet with young people attending World Youth Day.
All this is in aid of one thing that Pope Benedict spoke of when he invited young people to Sydney, that still stands as the greatest encouragement for young people preparing for Madrid, which is now just months away:
“Together we shall invoke the Holy Spirit, confidently asking God for the gift of a new Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium.”
YouCat – the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church – will be used in the catechesis of the pilgrims. Buy your copy here.
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