This is the journey towards the next World Youth Day in 2023. The story of a young woman from the Focolare who is collaborating in planning the event.
The next World Youth Day will take place in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, in 2023 with the theme “Mary got up and went in haste” (Lk 1:39). The pandemic leaves open questions regarding the event, but the preparatory work has been underway for some time. Mariana Vaz Pato, a young woman from the Focolare Movement, is part of the local team working to organise the event.
The motto of the WYD chosen by the Pope recalls Mary’s “yes” to God and her haste to reach her cousin Elizabeth, as recounted in the Gospel. What does this mean for young people today, especially in this time of pandemic?
“This theme, first of all, shows us an action “Mary got up”. We can understand that the Pope challenges us to get out of our comfort zone, to get up and go to meet the other person. Secondly, we have Mary’s “yes” to God, which serves as an example for us to also say our “yes” and go on mission. The Pope launched the theme in 2019, before this pandemic existed. At this moment, the theme chosen may seem contradictory to what we are living but it tells us that the pandemic cannot be an obstacle in following God, who makes possible what seems impossible.”
Young people all over the world are urged to identify themselves with Mary. She is an outstanding model: how can we let ourselves be inspired by her in our daily lives?
“In Panama, the Pope said that Mary is God’s “influencer” and that in her simplicity she said her “yes”, becoming the most influential woman in history. It is true that transforming the world is an ambitious mission, but Mary was able to do it with her virtues. If we follow her example, we are on the right track”.
How far have you got with the preparations for the event? How many young people are expected?
“Given the current circumstances it is difficult to make predictions. The logo was launched in October, the symbolic presentation ceremony was held in November and the anthem was recently launched. An itinerary of catechesis has also been developed so that WYD is not just an event but a living journey, a deepening of faith. We don’t know what the world will be like in 2023, but the teams are working to make this event a decisive moment in the lives of young people and for the renewal of the Church and of society”.
Some young people from the Focolare Movement are involved in this preparatory work…
“The Church is organising itself in committees that prepare the programme and take care of the logistical aspects. As a Movement we are present in these committees with young people, men and women focolarini, couples and people involved in the parish movement, with various tasks: from youth ministry to communication with the local communities and the parish movement in Portugal. Then there is communication with the area of Western Europe and with the youth centres of the Movement. This experience is a challenge, with all the uncertainty of these times, but it is also a joy to discover the contribution we can make as a Movement and, above all, to be able to make this journey together with the Church”.
Claudia Di Lorenzi