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WASHINGTON—More than 16,500 youth and young adults from across the United States have already registered to participate in World Youth Day 2011, in Madrid, August 16-21. The participants represent 380 different U.S. groups.
At least 60 U.S. bishops will accompany the youth on their pilgrimage to the Spanish capital. Among them will be Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as well as Cardinals Seàn O’Malley of Boston, Francis George of Chicago, and Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington.
By diocese, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Denver, which hosted WYD in 1993, are sending the largest contingents. California, Arizona and the Washington, DC area are also sending sizable delegations.
According to the organizers, “the primary objective of WYD is to make the message of Christ known to all young people worldwide.”
The theme of the 2011 edition “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” comes from St. Paul (Colossians 2:7). Participants must be at least 14 years of age to participate, though the average age is between 16 and 25 years old. Though the gathering has a marked Catholic identity, youth from other religious traditions also are invited.
Pope Benedict XVI has praised the “particularly joyful nature and overwhelming sense of communion” in these gatherings, which he has described as “above all…a celebration of faith, a human encounter of communion in Christ.”
The pope is scheduled to pray with the youth during an evening vigil on Saturday, August 20, and then preside over the closing Mass, or “Mass of Sending,” the following morning, Sunday, August 21. Other events will include catechetical meetings and vocation rallies in various languages. The Stations of the Cross on Friday, August 19, through the streets of Madrid, will feature unique religious art images of the traditional Spanish Holy Week processions, brought from all over Spain for the occasion.
About 4,000 U.S. participants also are planning to attend the “days in the dioceses,” a pre-event activity that allows them to experience first-hand the country’s culture and religious traditions by spending time with local families and Catholic communities.
The international youth gathering was first convened by Pope John Paul II in 1985. It has been hosted in cities around the world including Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Czestochowa,Denver, Manila, Paris, Rome, Toronto, Cologne and Sydney.
Though registration will be open until the dates of the event itself, early registration is recommended. Early-bird registration ends March 31.
For more information or to register visit http://www.madrid11.com/en. Media accreditation opens April 25 through the same site.
Keywords: youth, World Youth Day, Madrid 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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