Final preparations are being made for thirty young people from the Archdiocese of Liverpool to travel to Rio de Janeiro next Wednesday to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis and an expected three million Catholic young people from throughout the world.
St Mary’s, Lowe House, St Helens, the home of Animate Youth Ministries, will be a hive of activity from early morning on Wednesday 17 July as the young pilgrims prepare for their departure. After several hours of packing and loading the group will celebrate Mass at 9.00 am before boarding the coach to take them to Heathrow from where they will fly to Rio for the experience of a lifetime.
As they set off on their journey it will be the culmination of months of preparation and hard work, particularly fund raising for the trip. Far from being a holiday or a summer camp World Youth Day is an experience of faith and a sharing of cultures which can form, shape and transform lives. It is hard work for the young people not least in the first half of the pilgrimage when they will be living and working with local families in the Archdiocese of Niteroi close to Rio de Janeiro. They will be taking part in local Church and community activities during their stay.
22 year old Sarah Brooks says, ‘There are many things I'm looking forward to in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. From deepening my faith to experiencing the Brazilian culture and gathering with millions of young Catholics from around the world; plus seeing our new Pope. It's going to be a great experience.’ Meanwhile Fergus Williams-Tanton, also 22 and from Ormskirk, is more than looking forward to the pilgrimage, ‘I'm ecstatic to be going to experience the electric atmosphere that the youth of the Church will bring to Rio.’
From Tuesday 23 July the pilgrims will be based in Rio itself as the celebrations begin in the build up to the Mass with Pope Francis on Sunday 28 July. During these days there will be teaching sessions led by Bishops from throughout the world. On the evening of Thursday 25 July there will be a welcome for Pope Francis on Copacabana beach from the young people, who have already renamed the beach ‘Popeacabana’. This will be the first time that Pope Francis has returned to his native continent since his election last March.
23 year old Rebecca Wall says, ‘I am really looking forward to meeting and celebrating my faith with young people from all over the world and of course really excited about joining Pope Francis on the Copacabana.’ The sharing of cultures in a Universal Church is something which appeals to 23 year old Joe McCrave from Penwortham, ‘I can't wait to make the pilgrimage to celebrate my faith as part of a vibrant, universal Church’ says Joe. 19 Year old Rosie Whalley from Wigan shares that view, ‘I can't wait to spend two weeks singing, shouting and sharing cultures with millions of people all united by the wonderful faith we share.’
On the Copacabana beach again on Friday evening Pope Francis will lead the millions of young people in the Stations of the Cross; and following an all night Vigil on Saturday night he will celebrate Mass with them in Guaratiba at the Campus Fidei at 10.00 am on Sunday morning. This will bring the celebration of the 28th World Youth Day to a close.
The Liverpool pilgrims will arrive back in the United Kingdom on Tuesday 30 July.
The media team from the Pilgrimage will be reporting throughout the World Youth Day celebrations.
The pilgrims can be followed on their journey through the Archdiocese of Liverpool website www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk and through the Animate Youth Ministries website at www.animateyouth.org
In addition the World Youth Day pilgrims also have a blog at www.liverpoolpilgrim.wordpress.com with a Twitter feed @LivPilgrim