More than 5,000 young people from across Canada are setting out to attend World Youth Day taking place in Lisbon, Portugal from August 2 to 6, 2023, according to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
Michelle Pacheco, a 26-year-old Canadian delegate from Toronto, currently works as a missionary with the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth says that she has devoted all her preparation time to prayer. "Above all else, I have been asking people to pray for me and have also asked them how I can pray for them during my pilgrimage to World Youth Day," she said.
World Youth Day is an opportunity to hear talks from leading Catholic speakers, and notably, including Bishops from every continent. In addition to catechetical sessions, there are opportunities for prayer and divine worship. A special element of World Youth Day also includes a cultural festival with music, dance, and creative expression, drawing on talented young people from around the world.
Pope Francis will spend five days in Portugal, most of them in Lisbon, where he will meet university students, enjoy lunch with young people, pray with them and preside at Mass, while also making a stop in Fatima, one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the world.
"This is an opportunity for young people to celebrate their faith, meet other youth from around the world and to have a special encounter with Pope Francis," said Isabel Correa, National Coordinator of the Canadian delegation to the World Youth Day 2023. "Over time, we have heard and seen the powerful experience that World Youth Day has been in the lives of so many Canadian youth and we expect that this year’s pilgrimage will be no different. It is a transformative and inspiring moment that they will cherish for years to come."
A special gathering for Canadian pilgrims will be held in Lisbon on Tuesday, August 1, organized by a group of young adult volunteers from WYD CANADA on behalf of the CCCB.
The Canadian delegation also includes Indigenous youth following Pope Francis' historic 2022 Apostolic Visit to Canada, which served as an important step in the process of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples of this land.
More than 750,000 people attended the final Mass of the World Youth Day in Toronto, in 2002, and up to two million are expected to attend the final Mass in Lisbon with Pope Francis. Those interested in learning more about Canadians traveling to Portugal for World Youth Day 2023 can visit: www.wydcanada.org.