By Lisa Zengarini

Jul 26 2023

The United States are one of the five largest delegations participating in the week-long event which will kick off on 1 August under the theme “Mary arose and went with haste” with Pope Francis joining the young pilgrims from 3 to 6 August during his Apostolic Journey to Lisbon.

More than 28,600 young people from 1,300 U.S. groups are to travel to Lisbon for the 37th World Youth Day with Pope Francis. They are one of the five largest delegations participating in the event and registration numbers are still rising, according to a statement from the U.S. bishops.

The pilgrims number more than twice the amount of U.S. youths who attended the 2019 World Youth Day in Panama, while the previous WYD in Krakow, Poland, in 2016  saw a record number of 40,000 participants from the U.S.A..

Bishop Robert Barron, who serves as chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth and will be traveling to Lisbon along with 60 other U.S. bishops, said in a statement that “our country is very much looking forward to this pilgrimage.”

A significant encounter with Jesus 

According to Bishop Barron, the event “is a wonderful occasion for young adults to have a significant encounter with Jesus Christ in the company of the universal Church.”

“It is also a moment when the Holy Father and the Church’s leadership get an opportunity to listen to the young people present, teach and form them in the Gospel, and ultimately send them towards their vocation and mission in the world,” he added.

U.S. pilgrims will be staying in parishes, campuses, homes, and hotels around Lisbon during the week of WYD, taking part in prayer and liturgies, daily catechesis, concerts, presentations, dialogue, service, and networking with young adults from around the world. More than 35 bishops from the U.S. will also serve as lead bishops for the daily catechetical sessions called “Rise Up!”.

The US Bishops’ Conference is planning a National Pilgrim Gathering for all U.S. pilgrims on August 2 , at the Parque da Quinta das Conchas of Lisbon After time of music and testimony by young adults, Bishop Barron will offer a keynote address and, with Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas, lead a Holy Hour as part of the National Eucharistic Revival initiative.

Pope to join the pilgrims on August 3

The Lisbon WYD  will kick-off on August 1 with the Pope joining the pilgrims on August 3 when he will attend the Welcome Ceremony   in the city centre. On August 4, he will lead the Stations of the Cross and will also hear confessions of some young people at Jardim Vasco da Gama.  He will preside over a prayer vigil on August 5 and pray the Holy Rosary with sick young people. The Holy Father will celebrate the closing Mass , with an anticipated crowd of a million or more,on August 6.

Pilgrims from across the world

Hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims a from all corners of the globe are expected to take part in the WYD in Lisbon . Most participants will hail  from Europe and the Americas, including 5,000 from Canada and 10,000 from Brazil. But there will  also be small contingents  from Israel, Palestine and Jordan (l 400),   and from continental China (50 ) and evenviolence-torn Haiti (26)

Days in the Dioceses before the WYD

In the leadup to the WYD, from 26 to 31 July more than 67,600 pilgrims from 126 countries will be welcomed in the 17 dioceses of mainland Portugal and the islands to experience the Days in the Dioceses (GND). According to  yhe organizing committee, they will be divided into over 950 groups, and stay in homes, parishes, schools and public facilities

The young pilgrims will get to know the local Church, the people and the region, and each diocese will offer a programme centred on five pillars: Welcome, Discovery, Mission, Culture and Sending. – Vatican News