30,000 Americans expected at World Youth Day

BALTIMORE - The American contingent to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in July is expected to top 30,000 pilgrims.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., in a Nov. 17 presentation during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore, that the U.S. delegation of young people is expected to be the largest outside of North America.

He said that about 13,000 people already were registered for the event.

Pope Francis, in inviting young people and young adults to the celebration, connected World Youth Day with the Year of Mercy, which began Dec. 8. The event in the southern Polish city will become a "youth jubilee," Bishop Caggiano said.

The bishop, who is working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said people of all ages are invited to attend the weeklong World Youth Day, set for July 25-31.

"If everyone can be a pilgrim, where will you celebrate and how will you embark on this pilgrimage?" Bishop Caggiano asked.

He urged his fellow bishops to consider heading their local contingent, saying the deadline for prelates to register was Dec. 4.

While not all young people will be able to travel to Poland, Bishop Caggiano urged the bishops to plan events in their dioceses to coincide with World Youth Day.

"World Youth Day is not simply an event that happens every three years. It is not limited to those who have the means to travel. Rather, World Youth Day is an opportunity for encounter, transformation and conversion offered for every youth and young adult in all of our dioceses and eparchies," he said.

World Youth Day activities, locally or in the host country, provide an opportunity for young people to discern their call to a priestly or religious vocation, the bishop added.

"So many hear God's word at an event like this to priesthood, religious vocation or consecrated life," he said. "We've found that World Youth Day plays an indispensable role in young priests, sisters and brothers and lay leaders."

Already the secretariat is preparing catechetical resources and other materials for bishops and diocesan staff preparing for the celebration. He said there will be opportunities for Americans to meet in Poland for prayer, tours and other activities. Two particular events are being planned, including a gathering of pilgrims July 27 and a concelebrated Mass will all U.S. pilgrims July 30. Details will be announced in the future.

Bishop Caggiano also said that precautions are being taken to assure the safety of Americans making the journey. He said the bishops' World Youth Day staff is working with the U.S. Department of State, the Polish embassy in Washington and the U.S. Consulate in Krakow on security measures.

"We will continue to be diligent and proactive in all of these matters," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015