Millions of young people from around the globe will gather in Krakow, Poland, July 25 to 31 to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis. The faithful unable to make the pilgrimage this year can still stay connected from anywhere through a smartphone.
The event’s official app can be downloaded for free from worldyouthday.com/app. News, information on Krakow, prayers, maps, videos and more can be found in the app.
In addition to staying connected through the official app, EWTN, a Catholic TV network, will cover the festivities with hosts Chris Stefanick, Jason Evert and Father Mark Mary Cristina. The network has also set up a website for all things World Youth Day at ewtn.com/wyd. It will include all the events they are covering, news articles, transcripts of speeches by Pope Francis, “On Demand” replays of events, an app that will give viewers a 360-degree view of various sites around WYD and a link to all of the above in Spanish. Viewers will also be able to find WYD listings on EWTN’s free app under “Program Schedules” and “Video on Demand.”
Typically, dioceses around the country will hold stateside celebrations concurrent with the International WYD, however, the Diocese of Orange will not be having a state side celebration this year but is encouraging everyone to remain connected in other ways.
“Stay connected with us through prayer,” encourages Armando Cervantes, director of youth and young adults for the diocese who will be travelling to this year’s WYD. “We’ve been asking for prayers from anyone we meet because although it will be a fun pilgrimage experience, lots of prayers are needed for transformation and conversion.”
WYD resulted from an invitation by Pope John Paul II in 1984 to young people around the world to join him on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square for International Jubilee of Youth. The pope was excited to see over 300,000 young people show up to celebrate the day with him. In 1985, he announced the institution of World Youth Day and then the first official WYD took place the following year in Rome. Since then, the event has grown.
“We say that Catholic means universal but sometimes we never live it out,” says Cervantes. “At World Youth Day, you see it in the context of 2 to 3 million Catholics from all across the globe, your age, speaking different languages and in all different expressions of faith. We are praying to God in different languages but its one holy Catholic and apostolic Church that unites us.”
Father Mark Mary Cristina has been attending WYD since 2002 and says that each one is always special.
“You see young people and the gifts they have to bring to the Church,” he says. “Everybody as members of the Church have a gift to bring and they bring enthusiasm and generosity and that has a way of awakening the Church because of the zeal, the generosity and the commitment of young people.”
This year’s WYD will revolve around mercy.
“This jubilee year of mercy is a special time of grace and a time of anointing,” he explained. “The theme this year is ‘blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.’ It’s gong to be a very blessed, anointed, grace-filled time. And I’m looking forward to it.”