World Youth Day (WYD) is an event by the Catholic Church, started by Pope John Paul II in 1985. This annual celebration aims to bring young people together, empowering them as partners in global change. Every year, on August 12th, the international community acknowledges the essential role of young men and women and raises awareness about the challenges they face in today’s world.
The roots of World Youth Day can be traced back to the Redemption Year in 1983-1984, celebrating 1,950 years. Pope John Paul II sought to organize a meeting for youth on Palm Sunday during this jubilee year. While the organizing committee expected 60,000 participants, an overwhelming 250,000 young people came together, setting the stage for future events.
The upcoming World Youth Day celebration in 2023 will occur in Lisbon, Portugal, from Tuesday, August 1st to Sunday, August 6th. This international festival of faith will unite young people worldwide to pray, worship, and celebrate their Catholic faith. The event offers a unique opportunity for pilgrims worldwide to participate, physically in Lisbon or through digital media.
Following the success of the first gathering, the United Nations proclaimed 1985 as the International Year for Youth. Seizing the opportunity to manifest the Church’s attention to the young people, Pope John Paul II invited youth again to Rome for Palm Sunday. That time, an astounding 300,000 young people participated in moments of prayer, catechesis, and celebration.
In 1999, August 12th was officially designated as IYD by the UN General Assembly. This annual celebration serves as a testament to the significant role young men and women play as partners in shaping the world’s future. It also serves as an opportunity to increase awareness of their challenges.
World Youth Day has become synonymous with unity, cultural diversity, and spiritual growth. It has been celebrated yearly on Palm Sunday since 1987 in every diocese. Every few years, it transforms into an international pilgrimage then to a major city world, where young people from different countries come together for a program of spiritual activities, catechism, performing arts, and public rituals. The highlight of the event is a Mass led by the Pope.
World Youth Day is a powerful celebration of young Catholics’ faith, unity, and spiritual journey. It originated as an idea to inspire and affirm the youth within the Church and has evolved into a global event that unites young people from diverse backgrounds. World Youth Day inspires and guides the youth through its traditions and meaningful rituals, empowering them to embrace their faith and contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world.