WASHINGTON (February 11, 1998) -- A continental youth gathering for young people from North and South America is slated for Santiago, Chile, October 6-11.
The gathering is expected to be a one-time gathering for young people of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean and will end with a Saturday vigil and Saturday Mass. The format is similar to the biennial World Youth Days inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in 1985, but with greater emphasis on service and less on catechists.
An estimated 500,000 young people are expected to participate in the entire event, and more than 700,000 people are expected for the vigil/Mass.
The gathering is planned as an immersion experience with young people living with families or in parish halls and participating integrally with their hosts. Major events will be held in Spanish and Portuguese, so all participants must be able to speak some Spanish or Portuguese. The event will be service-oriented with the young people building 1,000 homes, planting 500,000 trees, visiting the elderly and visiting children in orphanages, for example. In addition, there will be discussion and theological reflection on the role of youth and young adults in the Church today and what youth and young adult ministry should look like as society approaches the year 2000.
During the first four days, the gathering will be held in the Archdiocese of Santiago, Chile and in the five neighboring dioceses: Melipilla, Rancagua, San Bernardo, San Filipe and Valparaiso. On Saturday and Sunday, everyone will gather in Santiago for the vigil and Mass.
The meeting is open to young persons from 15 to the mid-30's.
The meeting follows on a Vatican recommendation that each continent sponsor a continental youth gathering in preparation for the year 2000. The Vatican asked the Archdiocese of Santiago to host the gathering for America.
The theme for the gathering is "The Holy Spirit Will Reveal All Things To You."
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) will be the official focal point for registration in the United States. Registration will open in April and close in September. Housing will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
All lodging, meals and transportation in Chile will be provided for participants.
A registration fee of $35 will be charged, with $15 going to Chile for expenses; $10 to a solidarity fee to help those who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend; and $10 to the NCCB to help with the registration costs.
Pilgrims also will be responsible for their airfare to/from Santiago.
Registration forms will be forwarded to dioceses by March. All individual participants are asked to register through their parish, diocese or campus ministry center. The parishes, dioceses, and campus ministry centers will then register their groups with the NCCB.
Planning material will be sent to all group leaders after they register.
The objectives for the event include deepening and strengthening in youth and young adults the experience of Jesus as Good News, preparing the "young Church" for the Jubilee Year 2000, and strengthening the sense of belonging to the Church for young people.
Each country is asked to spend time leading up to October reflecting on the future of young people in the Church. In the United States, the bishops' statements on youth ministry, Renewing The Vision, and on young adult ministry, Sons and Daughters of the Light, and the Subcommittee on the Third Millennium's statement, Open Wide the Doors to Christ, may be valuable resources for this. Participants also are urged to read Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Tertio Millenio Adveniente.
Persons interested in more information on the program can contact the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Family, Laity Women and Youth at (202-541-3042 or consult the web page at www.nccbuscc.org/laity/youth/cyg.shtml.