LISBON – From August 1st till August 6th, 2023, Catholic Christian youth from all over the world participated in the 37th World Youth Day, including the youth of Palestine, Galilee, Jordan, and Cyprus.
Decorated in the colors of the Portuguese flag (green, red, and yellow), this year's logo is formed mainly of a Cross, which is the ultimate sign “of the infinite love of God for humankind.” A path emerges from the cross, showcasing the Rosary (as a reminder of Fatima’s Apparitions), Mary depicted as a young girl (to signal Mary’s readiness to live according to God’s will), and a depiction of the Holy Spirit. The logo invites the youth of the Church to not stand still but be builders of “a fairer and more fraternal world”.
WYD 2023 began at Lisbon's Edward VII Park, where the opening Mass took place and the piligrim youth were welcomed by Cardinal Manuel Clemente of Lisbon, who urged them to live out this year’s slogan - “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lc1, 39) - to share Christ’s love with the World, despite the challenges they might face. He uttered the following words: “Mary carried in her womb the “blessed fruit” that was Jesus. Christians also carry Him, spiritually…. “Since we believe in Jesus as a path to God, we walk with Him to bring Him to others. With the same impulse that led Mary, in the same Spirit that leads us”.
Nearly 350 young adults from the diocese of Jerusalem participated in this year’s international Catholic youth meeting: 77 from Jordan, 200 from Palestine, 50 from Galilee, 20 from the Hebrew Speaking Community, and for the first time, 20 participated from Cyprus.
- Dana Qamr, from Aqaba’s parish
“This is my first time participating in WYD. Although it can be exhausting, due to the full schedule. Yet it is spiritually rich and touching, which makes me want to attend a second time. It is a rare experience where we meet people our age from different countries, exchange cultures, pray together, and unite in faith. We also got to Visit the Holy shrine of Our lady of Fatima and churches. This meeting helped me mature my faith, examine my consciousness. The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt among us. It is truly a life changing experience that touched both my heart and soul”.
- Rama Hijazin, from Samkieh’s parish
“WYD helped me realize the grace found in praying. During the Stations of the Cross, I was touched deeply upon seeing many people struggling with a disability; sickness or wearisome, fervently pray with a strong faith, joy, and reverence. It made me question my faith, and it lit a fire in me to break the spirit of laziness, to persevere in praying for others, and seek God’s face more”.
(Youth from Jordan)
The Youth “Rise up”
A 3-day conference titled “Rise up” was held during the week, during which the youth were divided into various groups according to the geographical location and common spoken language. Hence, the Arabic-speaking youth from the Middle East met together, celebrated Mass, and took turns in discussing spiritual topics related to them, and this year’s slogan.
(Arab countries, "Rise up" meeting)
“The youth of the Holy Land spirit was renewed upon realizing that they are not a minority, but rather a part of God’s family of believers here on the earth, which is continuously being led by Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit,” said Mgr Rafiq Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar in Galilea, who accompanied the youth spiritually during the “Rise up” meetings and presided over the daily Mass held at the end of each day. He added: “The main message that circulated was the need for young people to discover the love of God, and His plan, purpose and will for their lives”. He also expressed the importance and impact of Pope Francis presence among the youth, to listen to them, pray with them, and encourage them with his powerful faith filled words.
(Youth from Palestine YJHP, (Rabie Isaed/lpj.org))
"Take heart, do not be afraid,” these were the last words H.H Pope Francis addressed the participating youth with, as he presided over the closing Mass in the Tijo Nature Park, which was attended by 1.5 million young adults, and concelebrated by 10, 000 priests, 600 Bishops, and 30 Cardinals. Inspired by the Gospel of the Transfiguration, His Holiness urged the Christian youth “to shine” the light of God in the world, “listen” to the word of God that leads to life, and to “be unafraid” to change the world.
Noting that, a Jubilee for young people was announced will be held in 2025 in Rome. And Seoul, the Capital of South Korea will be hosting the next World Youth Days in 2027.
(Galilea Youth, (Natalie Matar /lpj.org))
In 1985, Pope John Paul II instituted the World Youth Day, after holding two successful international gatherings to celebrate the Youth Jubilee of the Holy Year of Redemption in 1983 and 1984. This gathering aims to bring young people from all over the world to meet with the Pope, pray, and celebrate the Catholic faith. It was first held in 1986 in Rome, and then hosted by Buenos Aires (1987) ، Santiago de Compostela (1989), Czestochowa ( 1991 ), Denver ( 1993 ), Manila ( 1995 ), Paris (1997) Madrid ( 2011 ), Rio de Janeiro ( 2013 ), Krakow ( 2016 ) and Panama ( 2019 ).
(Youth from Cyprus)