WASHINGTON (August 8, 2005)—Five young adults from the United States will have leading roles at the twentieth World Youth Day, the international meeting of young people and Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne, Germany, August 16-21.
The three women and two men will be among the 24,000 young people from the United States at the event which is expected to draw 800,000 participants from 120 nations. About 600 bishops also are expected to attend, including 72 from the United States.
The women include Gina DiSalvo, 22, a recent graduate of the Catholic University of America, in Washington; Maria Francisco, 28, a University of Arizona student who works as a youth minister, in Tucson, Arizona; and Mary Sturgron, 25, an administrative assistant at a non-profit organization in Chicago. The two men are Brian Hanson, 25, of Tempe, Arizona, who works for Youth Arise North America, and Chris Malano, 25, a recent graduate of the University of New Mexico
During World Youth Day the five Americans will be among 150 participants chosen for liturgical roles at the various events with the pope. The 150 young people will live in the same setting in Cologne as part of the experience as they prepare for their roles.
Ms. DiSalvo currently is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' staff preparing for World Youth Day. In the fall she will begin graduate studies in theatre at Ohio State University.
Ms. Francisco is a Native American of the Tohono O-odham tribe, which means "desert people," and works with Native American people at Tucson's Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. At the University of Arizona she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in family studies.
Both women were nominated for the World Youth Day positions by the USCCB Subcommittee on Youth and Young Adults.
Ms. Sturgeon, a graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, was chosen by the Vincentian Marian Youth, to represent the lay association, which is composed of young adults, ages 18-35, who serve the church and follow the example of the Virgin Mary and St. Vincent DePaul.
Hanson will represent Youth Arise International, a youth organization that works in collaboration with the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity to promote youth evangelization through international youth festivals.
Malano will represent the International Movement of College Students (IMCS) – Pax Romana. He plans to study international relations in graduate school and this summer is working at an architectural firm in Honolulu, his home diocese. At the University of New Mexico he has been involved with his university parish in Albuquerque. The IMCS aims to increase the awareness of college students worldwide of the current global social condition.
World Youth Day was founded by Pope John Paul II in 1985. In 1993, the event took place in Denver. The last international Word Youth Day took place in 2002 in Toronto.
During World Youth Day young people attend catechetical sessions led by bishops and participate in prayer and other worship activities as well as a festival bringing music, dance and other performances to World Youth Day stages in the German cities of Dusseldorf, Bonn and Cologne.
Several youth groups, including many from the United States, also will take part in pre-event social action activities in parishes throughout Germany, August 11-15.
More information about World Youth Day is available at www.wydusa.org.