The largest gathering of young people in the whole world is happening again, this time in Panama City. It is the 34thWorld Youth Day with Pope Francis who has a special place for the youth in his heart and has kept up with this tradition initiated by his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II, 33 years ago.  

The 2019 World Youth Day with the theme, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Lk 1:38)” is set to begin in a week and Archbishop Ulloa Mendieta who heads the Diocese that is hosting the 2019 World Youth Day says Panama is ready for the big event.

A lot has gone into preparations for this event, much of it involves a prayerful preparation.“Our preparation is supported, first of all, by prayer”, he says in an interview with the Vatican’s Massimiliano Menichetti.

“For the past 2 years or so we have put this project into the hands of the Lord, setting the 22nd of each month as the World Youth Day of prayer. We chose the 22nd as it is the Feast of Saint John Paul II, who created World Youth Day”, he explained.

According to the Prelate, the Church in Panama is a Church that is young and joyous, authentic, multi-ethnic and pluri-cultural, with a living faith and a commitment to proclaim the Gospel; a Church which reaffirms the teaching of Pope Francis, to announce an outgoing Church and to reach out to those on the margins; a Church which dialogues with those who are “different but not distant,” who can sustain ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue; a Church which serves everyone and excludes no one. 

Speaking on his expectation for the event, the Prelate said, “We hope to gather the largest numbers of young people from the Central American region and the American continent. And for those who cannot be physically present, we have worked to guarantee that they may follow the event through different platforms of communication.”

Archbishop Mendieta hopes that the young people may be embraced by the merciful love of the Father, that they make the most of the catechesis and the words of the Pope, who comes to confirm their faith, to say that the Church and society need them. And that they will have to courage to respond to God’s call, with their prayers.

So far, more than 400,000 young people from 155 countries have registered and are expected to attend the event which holds from 22nd to 27th of January 2019.

ACN Malta