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"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy"
(Matthew 5:7)


WYDUSA: The United States
Pilgrimage to World Youth Day

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World Youth Day


Welcome to the Pilgrim Year of Preparation

The WYDUSA Pilgrim Year of Preparation began in July 2015 and continues through July 2016 as pilgrims journey from the United States to Krakow or to their stateside celebrations.

The United States officially launched its Pilgrim Year of Preparation for World Youth Day 2016 on Tuesday, July 15, with the “Krakow Kickoff,” a special event at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.  with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and World Youth Day Liaison for the U.S. Bishops. This event was live-streamed – and is  now available for on-demand viewing. Bishop Caggiano spoke about the importance of pilgrimage for those celebrating World Youth Day in Krakow and in the USA. He compared this pilgrim journey to the Transfiguration, noting how Jesus led the apostles up the mountain to see his glorious image, and back down to the rest of the world to continue their apostolic mission. 

Read Bishop Caggiano's inspiring opening statement and closing remarks.

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World Youth Day Updates

The USCCB staff has developed several resources to assist bishops, group leaders, and pilgrims in their preparation for World Youth Day 2016. 

Guides for Pastoral Leaders

These guides are resources to assist bishops, group leaders, and pilgrims in their preparation for World Youth Day 2016.

World Youth Day USA International Pilgrim Leaders Guide: A guidebook for any pastoral leader coordinating a group of youth or young adults traveling to the international World Youth Day events in Krakow, Poland, in the summer of 2016.

World Youth Day USA Stateside Pilgrim Leaders Guide: A guidebook for any pastoral leader coordinating a stateside celebration for youth or young adults in their local parish, diocese, campus, or apostolic movement in the summer of 2016. 

World Youth Day USA Retreat Manual: A guidebook for any pastoral leader organizing retreats and spiritual formation for both stateside and international World Youth Day pilgrims, with templates focusing on pilgrimage, mercy, and mission.

English Version of WYD 2016 Theme Song

The official English and Spanish versions of the 2016 World Youth Day song "Blogoslawieni Milosierni" (Blessed are the Merciful) are now available. This song was originally composed by Jakub Blycharz and focuses on the 2016 WYD theme (Mt 5:7) and the Jubilee of Mercy.

THEME SONG RESOURCES: click here for overview, sheet music, audio files

ENGLISH VERSION: click here to listen to the official English version

SPANISH VERSION: click here to listen to the official Spanish version


Pilgrim Year of Preparation Resources

Find the following resources to help guide and prepare you for World Youth Day:

PRAYER: click here for the official World Youth Day Prayer for the United States

CALENDAR: click here for the Pilgrim Year of Preparation Calendar (to July 2016)

LOCAL SITES: click here for info on sites of Catholic heritage in the USA

PATRON SAINTS: click here to journey with the WYDUSA official patron saints

RESOURCES: click here for prayers and formation to spiritually prepare for WYD

STATESIDE GUIDE: click here for a short guide on organizing a stateside event


World Youth Day Event and Packing Logistics 

Check out our logistics pages for the week-long event in Krakow and for packing preparation. These pages will continually be updated as the event draws nearer.

World Youth Day 2016 Krakow Updates

Stay in the loop with Krakow 2016's latest plans, media, and much more by going to our World Youth Day Krakow site.


We invite you to pray the World Youth Day USA prayer as often as you are able, in the silence of your hearts, with friends, family, and fellow pilgrims. May you recieve peace, wisdom, and protection through this prayer. 


World Youth Day USA Store

International and stateside pilgrims can be united through WYDUSA prayer cards, posters, t-shirts, hoodies, water bottles, and much more, all at the online store.


The Purpose of World Youth Daywyd-usa-logo-montage

After two successful international gatherings with young people in Rome in 1984 and 1985, St. John Paul II instituted the annual observance of World Youth Day in December 1985 as an annual gathering of youth and young adults for prayer, worship, and celebration of the Catholic faith.  He told the College of Cardinals that year, “…the whole Church, in union with the Successor of Peter, must be more and more committed, globally, to youth and young adults – and to their anxieties and concerns and to their openness, hopes, and expectations…”

From that day forward, World Youth Day was celebrated each year by the global Church (during every Palm Sunday liturgy in Rome since 1984) and locally in many dioceses around the world. Every two or three years, an international gathering is held to bring all the youth and young adults together in one place with the Holy Father. After the first two gatherings in Rome (in 1984 and 1985), the subsequent international gatherings have taken place in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1987); Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1989); Czestochowa, Poland (1991); Denver, U.S.A. (1993); Manila, Philippines (1995); Paris, France (1997); Rome, Italy, for the Millennium Jubilee (2000); Toronto, Canada (2002); Cologne, Germany (2005); Sydney, Australia (2008); Madrid, Spain (2011); Rio de Janiero, Brazil (2013); and forthcoming in Krakow, Poland (2016).

While many nations of the world celebrate young people annually on Palm Sunday and the Feast of Christ the King, the United States has chosen to observe National Youth Sunday the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, which is typically in late October.

World Youth Day USA (WYDUSA) is an umbrella term for the United States’ participation in World Youth Day, both abroad at the international events and stateside in the U.S., as well as to designate those who have participated on one of those WYD activities in the past (WYDUSA “alumni”). The idea for this holistic approach is to unify all pilgrims across the country under one banner, to connect those who celebrate overseas with those who celebrate stateside, and to connect today’s World Youth Day pilgrims with those who have made pilgrimage to WYD at some point in the past thirty years.

Both international and domestic World Youth Day celebrations are important for three reasons:
Reason #1: Celebrating and Putting Trust in the Young

Youth and young adults are not only the future of the Church, but are active participants in the Catholic Church today. World Youth Day helps to prepare these young men and women to bring about Christ’s mission in the world and to equip them to be missionary disciples. World Youth Day brings together young people from the four corners of the earth, where the Holy Father is able to entrust the Church and its mission to younger generations. World Youth Day is not simply a celebratory gathering of disparate groups of youth and young adults, but a key time to call them forth on a great mission of faith.

As Bishop James D. Conley from Lincoln Nebraska, a World Youth Day alumnus, put it, “John Paul stood among millions of young people here in the United States [at World Youth Day Denver], and told us not to be afraid.  He told us to go out into the streets and proclaim the Gospel.  He told us to defend life.  He told us to become saints.  He called us to the New Evangelization.”

Reason #2: Making Pilgrimage

Understanding that young people are on a journey, the act of going on pilgrimage is an essential component to the World Youth Day experience. From ancient times, people of faith have made great journeys – from Abraham and Moses to the Early Christians, who traveled “to the ends of the earth” (cf. Acts 1:8) to spread the Gospel. Through the centuries, pilgrims have made journeys to Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, Rome, and many other great sites to find God through the resting places of the saints. Youth and young adults today continue on that same trajectory – and through World Youth Day, seek God through the experience of a truly Universal Church, in solidarity with the Holy Father and millions of young people.  World Youth Day, whether celebrated locally or internationally, is a pilgrimage reflecting the road that young people continue to travel throughout their whole lives.

Reason #3: Encountering the Catholic Community

In the Twenty-First Century, technology ensures that young people are always in contact with one another. World Youth Day goes beyond "being in contact" and gives youth and young adults a personal encounter with the international Catholic community they cannot get through their phones or computers – all in service to the ultimate encounter with God. Like the disciples on Mount Tabor, World Youth Day participants have a great opportunity to experience a transformative event – and to use that moment of grace to equip themselves for the great work that awaits them in the everyday valleys of life.

Each time I have had the privilege of being present at the Vigil and Closing Mass of World Youth Day (Sydney, Madrid, and Rio), when millions of young Catholics are gathered together at the same time, I think of the scene in the Book of Revelation (see Chapter 19) in which a great multitude stands before the throne of the Lamb, singing praises forever and ever.  But the realization of this little bit of “heaven on earth” comes not just because of the vast numbers who are gathered or the enthusiasm of their praise.  It comes from having witnessed smaller ways in which young people of every nation and language interact with each other at the catechesis sites, at the prayer services, at the concerts, and on the streets.  For sure they are not dressed in the pure white garments of heaven, but they are definitely clothed in joy and love of the Lord Jesus.”
-- Most Reverend Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu, Hawaii

WORLD YOUTH DAY - rio 2013


Relive WYD Rio through Salt+Light's WYD Central blog.

The most recent international World Youth Day was held in late July 2013 in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Over three million people from around the world descended onto Copacabana Beach for the final Mass of WYD that year. For those anticipating the next international event in Krakow, it may be good to see what happened in Rio as a benchmark for these incredible international gatherings. 

"Walking through the crowds gathering on Copacabana Beach I would hear chants and songs in so many languages, all praising God, proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ, and expressing their deep love for the Church and the Holy Father.In a world that at times proclaims that faith and Church are irrelevant, I could only say . . .REALLY!  This certainly was not evident at this event"                         -- Bishop Nelson J Perez

Pope Francis waves beside Brazil's flag during a welcome ceremony at the Guanabara Palace in Rio de Janeiro. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

World youth day Alumni Network

Are you an alumni of a past World Youth Day?  

Register to be part of the National WYDUSA Alumni Network.
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visit our Facebook and Twitter pages

World Youth Day is not the destination, but one point along the pilgrimage of life. As a WYD alumni, you are still on that journey. Connect with other U.S. citizens who have participated in a World Youth Day event, either stateside or internationally, at least once in the past thirty years since these gatherings began in 1984. 

Over one-half million people in the USA have been to a World Youth Day event - are you one of them? If so, connect with the national alumni network today.

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact the USCCB World Youth Day Office with any questions you may have pertaining to World Youth Day, including information about pilgrim preparation and hosting stateside events. Additionally, if you are hosting a stateside event, consider submitting information for your event to be featured on our stateside activities page.

Phone: (202) 541-3044 | E-mail:


Leaders and pilgrims: sign up for Krakow 2016 email update

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