What is World Youth Day?

What is World Youth Day?

What is World Youth Day may be a question most people have in mind nowadays. World Youth Day had been in the news lately. It had been heard in church announcements before the recently celebrated international event.

world youth day

So, what is World Youth Day?

World Youth Day (WYD) is an event for the youth from all over the world organized by the Catholic Church. This event is held every two or three years and attended by the young people usually from 16-35 years old. 

World Youth Day was initiated by Pope John Paul II (now a saint) in 1985. The event is made very special in whichever host country it is held because of the presence of the Pope himself. 

The purpose of this gathering is to call all the youth of the world and commission them as Christ’s disciples. Pope John Paul II saw in the young people the future of the church. Therefore, he deigned to awaken their passion and zeal through this worldwide event.

The Holy Father strongly encouraged the youth to be faithful living witnesses in this present time. He expressed his hope on the youth of today and entrusted to them the World Youth Day Cross. This cross is carried throughout the world as a symbol of the love of Christ for humanity. Hence, during the most recent celebration at Krakow Poland, the World Youth Day cross shone again in the middle of the thousand participants.

world youth day cross

World Youth Day is truly a special time for a close encounter of the youth with the Pope. This legacy of Pope John Paul II was continued by Pope Benedict XVI and recently, by Pope Francis.

The most recent World Youth Day was held in Krakow, Poland from 25th to 31st of July 2016. The event usually takes place for a week. It normally begins with the welcoming of the pilgrims or the youth participants.  Then, the participating bishops give catechetical sessions in the succeeding days. The arrival of the Pope, of course, is one of the highlights of the event. Afternoon shows and music cannot not be present as they fire up the energy of the young. And moments for prayer and reconciliation too are definitely given a special place.    

The day before the end of the week-long event takes place the walk to the pilgrim site. It is one of the most exciting part. And during the last night is an evening vigil with the Pope. This then culminates with the celebration of the Holy Mass on a Sunday morning, during which the announcement of the next host diocese is made.

The themes and the year and location where World Youth day was held for the past 3 decades:

        YEAR AND LOCATION                                         THEME
1986– Rome, Italy Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).
1987– Buenos Aires, Argentina We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves (1 John 4:16).
1989– Santiago de Compostela, Spain I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
1991– Czestochowa, Poland You have received a spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15).
1993– Denver. USA I came that they might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
1995– Manila, Philippines As the Father sent me, so am I sending you (John 20:21).
1997– Paris, France Teacher, where are you staying? Come and see (John 1:38-39).
2000– Rome, Italy Jubilee – The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
2002-Toronto, Canada You are the salt of the earth; You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14).
2005– Cologne, Germany We have come to worship him (Matthew 2:2)
2008– Sydney, Australia You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1, 8)
2011– Madrid, Spain Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith (Colossians 2:7)
2013– Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Go and Make Disciples of All Nations (Matthew 28:19)
2016 – Krakow, Poland Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7)


It is truly inspiring to see a throng of energetic youth expressing their love for Jesus Christ! Although they differ in race, color and culture, they come together to prove that the love of Jesus make them one. And to tell the world that there is hope in the Catholic faith! Yes, as long as there are hearts aflame with love and zeal for Christ, the church will stand!


The next World Youth Day will be held in 2019 in Panama

If you are between 16-35 of age, then you can be a part of this joyous event! Or if you are rather youthful at heart and energy, you are therefore needed in this event!

You have an ample time to prepare yourself and join this youthful gathering! 

Go, therefore, beloved youth of Christ!

What is World Youth Day?

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A Million Ways to Glow: Be youthful!

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