11 WYD Curtain-Raiser

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:05 AM ]
The 34th edition of the World Youth Day will be held in Panama from January 22 to 27 this year.

All roads will lead to Panama from January 22, as one of the largest youth gatherings in the world will unfold under the loving gaze of Pope Francis. More than 200,000 young people from 155 countries are expected for the 34th World Youth Day (WYD) at Panama, 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). The theme for World Youth Day 2019 is taken from the Gospel of St Luke: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

Such are the numbers which are evolving, said Giancarlo Candanedo, spokesman of the WYDs, 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 pieces 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 organisation of the event. They have made things easier. It's a help for the Church," stressed Candanedo.

The Indian Connection

A national delegation of 56 people from India, under the banner of the CBCI Youth Council, left for Panama on January 15. The delegates include nine priests, a religious sister and Bishop Mar Joseph Pandarasseril, Archeparchy of Kottayam, who is also a member of the CBCI Youth Council. The young people forming the group come from across the vastness of India, from the North East and Agra, to Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south. Fr Deepak Thomas KJ OCD, Executive Secretary of the CBCI Youth Council and Fr Savio D'Souza are the group coordinators.