Did you know that the first international World Youth Day gathering was in Argentina in 1987 but the roots go back to Palm Sunday 1984 in Rome? Saint Pope John Paul II declared the liturgical year of 1984 to be a great Year of Redemption. Part of this year was an invitation to young people to come and celebrate with him. Expecting about 50,000 youth and young adults, Vatican officials were astounded to welcome over 250,000 young people to the city.
Then in 1985 the United Nations declared an International Year for Youth. John Paul II kept stride with the UN and again invited the young to come and bear witness to the faith with him on Palm Sunday. They did not disappoint him and over 300,000 descended upon Rome.
In 1986 the Pope challenged diocese around the world to hold their own World Youth Day celebrations. Then in 1987 the first international gathering was held in Buenos Ares, Argentina as a message to the country as it emerged from dictatorship.
This coming January, Pope Francis continues the tradition of World Youth Day and invites the young people of the world to come encounter their faith and each other as we celebrate our national identities as well as the Church who makes us one! This truly historic event will bring World Youth Day back to Latin America for the fist time since 1987, coming with a Latin American Pope to the first diocese of the New World.
If you are interested in going or know someone who you would like to send please contact us. There is still time! There is much beauty, goodness, and truth that a pilgrimage like this can show us as John Paul II reminds us, “The response is given by all of you who have been coming to Rome on pilgrimage for many years precisely to celebrate this day... Does this not mean perhaps that you yourselves are searching for Christ at the heart of his mystery? You are seeking it in the fullness of the truth which is Christ himself in the history of humankind” (Homily, 27 March 1988, Palm Sunday Mass, 3rd World Youth Day).