Established by Pope John Paul II in 1984 as a way to inspire the Church’s youth, years later World Youth Day continues to inspire young Catholics around the world. In doing so, it not only directly imparts virtues and values with the youth in attendance, it also empowers these individuals to be examples for others.
As Pope John Paul said at World Youth Day 1993 to the young Catholics in attendance:
“The Church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideals, in order to make the Gospel of life penetrate the fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love.”
This transforming of hearts speaks to World Youth Day’s mission to carry forth the pilgrimage’s blessings into the world. What stirred attendees’ hearts at World Youth Day can be paid forward – it should be paid forward.
In fact, it’s a calling. While the tradition of World Youth Day helps the Church’s younger members to mold beyond their moral compass – instilling a fervor for the faith and deep connection with the universal Church – this formation can also be formative to other members. It empowers and equips youth to have an impact even before they are adults.
Watching thousands of young Catholics from around the globe come together for a shared mission to grow in faith naturally gives hope to the generations that preceded them. What could be more hopeful for a world in continued need of good than witnessing thousands of these youth pray together by choice and on their own accord?
This hope naturally inspires adults in their own faith because they get a glimpse of progressive goodness and how that goodness can continue to shape and form our world. It’s telling of a brighter future!
Like past World Youth Days, 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon will present the opportunity for the Church’s youth to glean great insights on how to authentically live the faith. This fruit will equip young Catholics in attendance to grow to be the best version of themselves and, through doing so, will inspire the larger Church to do the same.