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T&T WYD group stays in Colon Kuna

A group of 47 left Piarco International Airport last Monday to represent the Archdiocese of Port of Spain at World Youth Day (WYD) 2019 in Panama.

WYD Panama is the closest this event has ever occurred to Trinidad & Tobago.The gathering presents a golden opportunity for young people to come together for prayer, catechesis and ceremonies with the Holy Father.

Pope John Paul II started World Youth Day in 1986. In 1985, the United Nations proclaimed an International Year of Youth, and the Pope extended an invitation to young people to join him in Rome for Palm Sunday that year. The response was overwhelming with 300,000 young people.

He knew that young people felt the need to meet and share their experiences, listen to words of faith, look to the future together, and renew and confirm their commitment. This has probably been one of St John Paul’s greatest gifts to the Catholic Church.

It was brilliant and it works! Events like these take us into the intimacy of local families, where we live with them, learn about their lives, their culture and participate in community life. We celebrate our similarities and our differences, fostering love and togetherness as we all gain new families.

Although our preparations started a bit late, we received assistance from the WYD organising committee and chose to stay in the Diocese of Colon Kuna, an hour north of Panama City. We are also fortunate to have a local contact in Panama—his knowledge and expertise are invaluable. Spiritual preparation was organised by Sr Sandra Xavier OP.

WYD week will include an opening Mass with the Holy Father Pope Francis, daily Catechesis, cultural events, Stations of the Cross and closing Papal Mass.—Donna Miles, Coordinator, WYD TT Secretariat

Some quick facts on WYD Panama 2019

* Theme: I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Lk 1:38).

* It is the first WYD to be held in Central America

* WYD is taking place January 22–27

* Traditionally, held in July, it was moved to January because of weather

* As of December 23, 47,000 young people from 155 countries have completed their registration for World Youth Day

* Another 168,000 are in the process of registration; ultimately pilgrim numbers will be just over 200,000

* 37,000 volunteers were involved in organising the event

* Most pilgrims will be lodged with host families

* An online visa system has been put in place to enable young Africans to participate

* 450 young Cubans will be able to make the trip

* China will be represented by 243 participants

* Pope Francis will be there from January 25

* On January 26 there will be evening vigil with the pope

* A vocations fair will be hosted

* Muslims will also be in attendance hailing from Jordan and Palestine

Visit the Archdiocesan Facebook page for more.