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Cardinal Farrell invites World Youth Day organisers to build bridges

By Mary Brazell

Signage promoting the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. Image: Vatican News

By Christopher Wells, 1 November 2022

The International Preparatory Meeting for WYD Lisbon 2023 kicks off in Fatima to explain the organization of the event and explore the culture and identity of the host city in Portugal.

With less than a year to go before World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 (1-6 August 2023), teams of local organizers met with representatives of Bishops’ Conferences, Youth Ministries, movements, and congregations for the International Preparatory Meeting in Fatima, on 17-19 October.

The gathering is aimed at clarifying the organization of the event and sharing the culture and identity of the host city and country.

A special gathering

“This meeting is special as it is the first face-to-face meeting of youth ministry delegates since the World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019,” said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which organized the Preparatory Meeting. “Now, here in Fatima,” he said, “true encounter, the experience of a worldwide Church on the way and common prayer are again possible.”

Speaking at the opening of the Meeting, Cardinal Farell invited participants to “make this face-to-face encounter a sign of building bridges between nations and cultures.”

Young people, protagonists of change

He also highlighted the importance of coming together as “the one universal Church on the way,” noting that young people are the “protagonists of change” in the synodal youth ministry promoted by Pope Francis. He invited his listeners to let “the young people themselves” be the protagonists of WYD preparations, including the celebration of the Diocesan World Youth Days on the Feast of Christ the King.

Cardinal Farrell said the principle of synodality has “direct relevance” for the Meeting in Fatima. While the organizers of WYD will present their plans, it is up to everyone to participate. “We are all co-organizers of the next World Youth Day!” he said. “We are all responsible! Let us therefore do all we can to support the Lisbon hosts in all their efforts.”

Fruits of organization

Finally, the Cardinal noted that despite the “great organizational and logistical efforts” needed to make WYD Lisbon a success, “their fruits are at another level.”

“These are necessary, but their fruits are at another level. They are often hidden and small: there is the silent hearing of Christ’s call to priestly service and consecrated life, there are the first tender glimpses of a future marriage, and there are the calls of the needy and of creation that move young people to rise up and act.”

“All are movements that come from Christ.”

Cardinal Farrell concluded his address with an appeal to be open “to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit,” and to entrust preparations for World Youth Day to the His guidance. “May the next World Youth Day be an open space where young people can meet Christ and find in Him their vocation in life,” the Cardinal said. “May this WYD be for many of us and for society a new beginning, from which we can act as Mary did: ‘She got up and left without delay’.”

With thanks to Vatican News and Christopher Wells, where this article originally appeared.