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World Youth Day


Celebrate World Youth Day as a Digital Pilgrim!

If you're not heading to Panama, you are still invited to participate in World Youth Day 2019 by attending a stateside event or following along online.

The USCCB and other Catholic media outlets will keep you up to date on all the happenings in Panama. Check out the official WYD schedule for what to expect and follow along with social media and live stream opportunities, especially USCCB social media channels, WYDUSA social media, Vatican News, and Salt + Light TV.

Join us on Wednesday, January 26, 2019 at 2pm ET for the Fiat Festival - a fully live-streamed event from Panama featuring engaging panels, dynamic speakers, and Adoration and Benediction. More information is available on the event flyer.

General Overview

The next international World Youth Day: Panama January 22-27, 2019

Registration is now open for WYD Panama through the official international website,

WYD Panama 2019 will be a chance for pilgrims around the world to come together with the many young people from the peripheries in Latin America to pray, worship, and celebrate the Catholic faith. 

As we prepare for Panama 2019, keep in mind the Blessed Virgin Mary who is at the heart of the themes for the upcoming and most recent WYDs:
  • 32nd World Youth Day, 2017: "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name"(Luke 1:49)
  • 33rd World Youth Day, 2018: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God" (Luke 1:30)
  • 34th World Youth Day, 2019: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38)

The United States will certainly have a presence at the international World Youth Day in Panama.  This page will be updated with details on the U.S. involvement with and preparation for this global event.  In addition, we anticipate a number of stateside (at-home) WYD celebrations taking place across the USA in January 2019. More details on those gatherings will be posted on this site. 

In the meantime, if you have further questions about the U.S. connection to WYD, email

Leaders and pilgrims - sign up for our Panama 2019 e-mail newsletter!

Check out the promotional video for World Youth Day Panama 2019. 

 Panamanian flags are seen after Pope Francis celebrated the World Youth Day closing Mass July 31 at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. Pope Francis announced that Panama will host World Youth Day in 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Pope Francis and Preparations for WYD:

The Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment
The Synod of Bishops is currently taking place from October 3rd through October 28th, 2018 in Rome with just a few months before World Youth Day Panama. At the prayer vigil in preparation for WYD 2017, Pope Francis encouraged young people to "make this journey, this march toward the Synod and towards Panama, and to make it with joy, with your aspirations, without fear, without shame, and to make it courageously." For more information, visit the USCCB Synod webpage, and follow USCCB on Facebook.

Visit of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon: August 19-27, 2018
The official WYD Cross and Marian Icon made a multi-city tour across the United States this August. Learn more about these symbols of WYD, and check out our page on the visit of the Cross, where we have posted details of the events that occurred in each city!

For more information on United States Celebrations, see our  "news and updates," "stateside celebrations," and "pilgrim year of preparation calendar" webpages.

July 9, 2018: Pope Francis Confirms Trip To Panama

Pope Francis confirms his visit to Panama for the 34th World Youth Day. The Holy Father accepted the invitation from governmental and church leaders in Panama. Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, Archbishop of Panama, expresses his excitement at the Holy Father's acceptance to attend this event: "This announcement gives an immense joy to the whole organization of WYD and we are encouraged by the certainty that the 'Peter' who will officially come to Panama will be Pope Francis."  The Archbishop also announced Pope Francis will consecrate Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria la Antigua during this visit. For more Read the full press release.

February 22, 2018: Pope Francis Delivers World Youth Day Message for the 33rd World Youth Day

Pope Francis released his message for the 2018 "World Youth Day" celebration (which is internationally celebrated on Palm Sunday, this year March 25). The theme of this year, which is aimed at all youth and young adults, is "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God" (Lk 1:30) .

The document is available in various languages on the Vatican website at

In the message, he references the Synod and the preparation for World Youth Day.  This is the second of three year cycle of WYD themes focused around discernment, vocation, and the Blessed Mother (Lk 1:49, Lk 1:30, Lk. 1:38). Last year, the Holy Father asked young people to reflect on their past and how "the Almighty has done great things" for them. This year, the Holy Father is encouraging young people to be aware of the present moment – not to be frightened by it or by their own self-doubts, but to take courage and be open to accepting the Lord's invitation to engage and to lead in church and in society. 

March 21, 2017: Pope Francis Delivers Message for the 32nd World Youth Day

World Youth Day was celebrated on Palm Sunday (April 9, 2017) at the Vatican (in particular with the transfer of the World Youth Day Cross from the young people of Krakow to the young people of Panama). In the United States, parishes, campuses, and dioceses can celebrate the gift and ministry with youth and young adults at a time that is most convenient for each local community, using the annual WYD theme. 

The theme for the 2017 celebration of youth and young adults was "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name" (Luke 1:49). Read the full message released by Pope Francis on the theme for the 2017 World Youth Day celebration.

During the Palm Sunday weekend in Rome, Pope Francis addressed young people at a prayer vigil at Saint Mary Major Basilica (on April 8, 2017) in preparation for World Youth Day and the Synod on "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment." He also addressed youth and young adults during his homily for the 32nd World Youth Day in Saint Peter's Square and during his Angelus message (on April 9, 2017). 

In the United States, on July 22, 2017, the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington DC held a major WYD celebration for over 1,000 young adults called "World Youth Day Unite" under the 2017 WYD theme. The event featured His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl of Washington and catechist bishops, Bp. Nelson Perez of Cleveland, Bp. Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, and Bp. Mark Brennan of Baltimore, as well as Catholic performing artists Audrey Assad and Tony Melendez. More details about this event can be found at

Pope Francis also recorded a short video message for youth and young adults on the occasion of the 2017 World Youth Day Year. (English Translation)

World Youth Day pilgrims kneel in prayer July 30 as Pope Francis leads the benediction during a prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Prayer is the foundation for World Youth Day. Just as in any pilgrimage of faith, we begin with prayer and reliance of God, for it is through the Lord that all things are possible. Beyond the practical steps and details, it is important to ground everything in a sense of spirituality and mission.  

In preparation for the 2019 World Youth Day, take time to pray for:

  • The Universal Church, led by His Holiness Pope Francis and the bishops of the world
  • The nations of the world: for solidarity, peace, and cooperation
  • Youth and young adults ages 16 to 35, especially those on pilgrimage to WYD
  • The young people who are disconnected from the practice of faith: for a conversation of heart
  • Those who lead ministries for youth and young adults: in thanksgiving for their great work
  • Those who are marginalized, lost, in poverty, sick, hurt, or in need of prayer
  • Those who have died, and who have passed down to us our heritage of faith
  • The host country of the next international WYD: Panama
  • Any special intention you may have at the moment

We offer prayers to the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the patron saints of World Youth Day USA:

  • St. James the Apostle, patron of pilgrim travelers
  • St. Kateri Tekakwitha, young faithful witness from our native land
  • St. Therese of Lisieux, patroness of missionaries and advocate for youth
  • St. John Paul II, father and patron of World Youth Day
  • Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, patron of young adults

Check out our WYDUSA patron page for more information about these holy men and women of faith, who accompany us spiritually to World Youth Day. Also, learn more about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a lesser-known but inspirational young man who St. John Paul II presented as "the man of the beatitudes" for World Youth Day pilgrims to follow closely. May he help you and other WYD pilgrims climb "to the heights" in this pilgrimage of faith.

The USCCB has also developed a special prayer for international and stateside WYD pilgrims from the United States:

World Youth Day USA Prayer

God our Father, be with us  on our pilgrim journey of faith. Give us the grace and courage  to step forward in faith and hope  on the road ahead.

Open our eyes to see your face  in all those we encounter. Open our ears to hear your voice  in those who are often ignored. Open our hearts that we might be  faithful disciples of mercy and truth.

Transform us. Empower us to give of ourselves to the poor;  to welcome the lost;  to forgive those who hurt us;  to comfort those who suffer  and are marginalized.  

Bless those who travel  from the United States of America  to Panamá, to join the universal  Church for World Youth Day. Bless, too, those who celebrate stateside,  united in faith and joy.

Like the disciples who journeyed  up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration, may this experience be  an encounter that strengthens us  for our work in the world.
Through the intercession of Mary,  the Immaculate Conception,  patroness of our nation, may we be worthy witnesses of our faith, humble representatives of our country,  and inspired missionaries bringing peace, hope, and mercy into our communities.  

We ask all this through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

St. José Sánchez del Rio, pray for us. St. Juan Diego, pray for us. Bl. Sor María Romero Meneses, pray for us. St. John Bosco, pray for us. Bl. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, pray for us. St. Martin de Porres, pray for us. St. Rose of Lima, pray for us.

St. James the Apostle, patron of  pilgrim travelers, pray for us.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, young faithful  witness from our native land, pray for us.

St. Therese of Lisieux, patroness of missionaries, advocate for youth, pray for us.

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, patron of young adults, man of the beatitudes, pray for us.

St. John Paul II, founder and patron  of World Youth Day, pray for us.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., speaks to World Youth Day pilgrims at Sacred  Heart Church in Krakow, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

WYDUSA Leader Guides: World Youth Day Resources

  • STATESIDE GUIDES: Use the Stateside Guide to plan your own WYD event. Check out the Stateside Page, for ideas and events stateside.

  • GROUP LEADERS: If you are taking a group to Panama, check out the International Pilgrimage for additional resources for your group to move beyond World Youth Day. Also, check out the Ecumenical Guide an additional resource on integrating your WYD experience into your everyday life.

  • WYDUSA PILGRIM JOURNAL: The journal is for all pilgrims celebrating in Panama, youth and young adults celebrating stateside or following along as a digital pilgrim - Order Now.

order hard copies of all guides AT 202-541-3044, or

Beyond World Youth Day

Now what? Where do we go next when International World Youth Day has passed? Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland Oregon reminded us during our WYDUSA Prayer Gathering in Krakow on August 27, 2016 that our journey has just begun: "For the Apostles--Peter, James, and John--the important thing was really not what happened on the mountain. The important thing was what came after they came down from the mountain." You are now in the most important past of your journey. Check out our resources to help you down the mountain and live your mountaintop experience in everyday life on our Beyond World Youth Day page

The Catholic Apostolate Center 

The USCCB WYD Office (WYDUSA) is happy to collaborate with the Catholic Apostolate Center on its efforts for World Youth Day 2016 and 2019. In particular, we thank them for their efforts with engagement of pilgrimage leaders, sharing of valuable resources and tools, making connections with stateside celebrations, assisting with technology and WYDUSA webinars, hosting the website, and collaborating with national follow-up efforts beyond the WYD experience. 

Watch "Beyond World Youth Day, What Now and What's Next"  Webinar, hosted by the Catholic Apostolate Center. 

National WYDUSA Alumni Network

Register to be a part of the National WYDUSA Alumni Network. World Youth Day is not a destination, but it is 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! Find more information and resources on our WYDUSA alumni resources page!

Looking Back: World Youth Day Krakow 2016

  • View a quick snapshot of the Washington-based WYD stateside event, "Krakow in the Capital" (#wydDC) in this recap video

 Visit the Youth and Young Adult Ministries page for more information on Youth Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, and Pastoral Juvenil Hispana.

Contact Us

Got questions? Please feel free to contact the National World Youth Day USA Office, within the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, with any questions you may have pertaining to international and stateside WYDs, pilgrim preparation, and hosting events. You can also follow the WYDUSA account on Facebook and Twitter, which gives the latest news and updates about upcoming WYD events and initiatives. 

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

Leaders and Pilgrims: Sign Up for Our Email Updates!

The U.S. flag is seen as pilgrims cheer as Pope Francis arrives on a tram for the World Youth Day welcoming ceremony in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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