WASHINGTON (August 11, 1997) -- Almost 13,000 U.S. youth are headed for Paris for the 12th annual World Youth Day, the international Vatican-sponsored celebration inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
The Vatican convenes an international gathering of young adults biennially, and the Paris event takes place August 18-24. In 1995 the World Youth Day international meeting was held in Manila, and two years before that, in 1993, in Denver.
The Pope is slated to visit Paris August 21-24. Following World Youth Day tradition, he will preside at an all-night vigil, which begins the evening of August 23 and concludes with Mass, August 24.
Two groups from the United States -- one English-speaking and one Spanish-speaking -- will be part of liturgical rites during the Vigil/Mass and will present gifts from diverse regions of the nation. Gifts include pottery from Central Kentucky, beadwork from Alaska, maple syrup from New Hampshire, iron ore from Minnesota, apples from Washington State and a Stetson cowboy hat from New Mexico.
Prior to the Vigil and Mass, youth will participate in large catechetical sessions led by church leaders from throughout the world. Prelates leading English-speaking groups include Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, Archbishop Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis, Bishop Anthony Lobo from Islamabad, Pakistan, and Bishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, Secretary for the Vatican's Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.
The international World Youth Day celebration is designed for young adults from 18 to 35, and most of the travelers from the United States fall within this age range.
Youth participants plan to file daily reports via the Web page of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference each morning, August 19 through August 26. The World Youth Day page can be accessed at www. nccbuscc.org/laity/youth/wyd/journal and will include photos and four daily messages posted each morning. The youth posting the messages will be among groups from New Hampshire/Vermont, Oklahoma, Utah/Missouri, and Wisconsin.
Correspondents include Diana, a 19-year-old student from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, who is traveling with her hometown parish, the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Others are Chad, a high school senior traveling with the Diocese of Manchester, NH and Diocese of Burlington, Vermont; Sarah, a 17-year-old high school graduate and a member of St. John Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, north of Tulsa; and Elisa, from St. John Newmann Parish in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They will post four preview messages on the NCCB/USCC Web page August 11.
Prior to World Youth Day, 1,303 U.S. youth will participate in Days in the Dioceses, a program in which they will be hosted by French families in the dioceses of Chartres, Le Puy, Bordeaux, Poitiers, Moulins, Dijon, Belley Ars, Autun, Le Mans, Tarbes, La Rochelle, Nevers, Taize, Periguex, Rodez, Agen, Sceaux, Auch, Tulle, Angoulene, Strasbourg, Chalen-Cham, and Prejus- Toulon.
The International Youth Forum, which traditionally precedes World Youth Day, will be held August 14-18. Two young people, Maritza Gamboa from Lubbock, Texas, and Mitchel Zimmerman from Lawrence, Kansas, will represent the United States at the gathering to which two young people from every country in the world have been invited. During the program, youth share how they live their faith in their particular country and culture.
U.S. participants at World Youth Day come from more than 40 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
Other U.S. youth will attend from Guam, the military services stationed in Lakenheath, United Kingdom; in Hohenfels, Spangdahlem, Heidelburg, and Bad Kreuznach, Germany; in Belgium; and in Aviano and Vicenza, Italy.
In addition to youth, 39 bishops, including five cardinals, also will attend World Youth Day. Among the cardinals, in addition to Cardinals Keeler, O'Connor and Law, are Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia and Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit.
Others in addition to Archbishops George and Rigali include Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, Archbishop Patrick F. Flores of San Antonio, Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, and Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark.