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Vatican Releases Guidelines for World Youth Day Celebrations

The new guidelines put emphasis on the role of local churches in promoting the Christian mission of transmitting the faith to the youth.

The Vatican announced on Tuesday the launching of its updated “Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of World Youth Day in the Particular Churches.”

The guidelines, according to the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, are “intended to be a resource that presents the ideal motivations and possible practical implementations of this year’s World Youth Day celebrations.

World Youth Day

In 1984, Pope John Paul II started World Youth Day to reach out to the youth and make them feel that they are cared for by the Church. (Read: 5 Fun Facts About the Saint of the Day, John Paul II)

Since then, there have been two types of World Youth Day celebrations: the international celebrations held every three years in a different country with the participation of the Pope, and the ordinary celebrations which take place annually in local churches.

Every year, ahead of the celebrations, the Pope would publish a Message intended to “accompany the journey of the universal Church with young people.”

Local Celebrations

In this 2016 file photo, Pope Francis walks with World Youth Day pilgrims as he arrives for a prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (Photo from CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Vatican guidelines state that celebrating World Youth Day in local churches “serves to raise awareness among the ecclesial community… of their mission to transmit the faith to the younger generations.” (Read: 3 Messages From Pope Francis to Inspire the Youth)

It is also stated that the new guidelines should be used as a roadmap for the planning and implementation of Church activities that intend to reach out to the youth. These, however, must be adapted to the different situations of the particular Churches around the world.

Below are some of the main points stated in the Vatican guidelines:

  • World Youth Day will be celebrated on November 22. Last year, Pope Francis called for a relaunch of the World Youth Day local celebrations. The event, traditionally held on Palm Sunday, will now be held on November 22, Sunday of the Solemnity of Christ the King, starting from 2021.
  • World Youth Day should be an occasion for young people. The church must involve young people by “listening to them” and finding “appropriate times and ways for the voices of young people to be heard within the existing structures of communion,” the document states.
  • World Youth Day must emphasize God’s call to holiness. The Vatican guidelines stress that the celebrations should help young people “understand that their whole life is placed before God who loves them and calls them.” Seminarians, consecrated persons, married couples, and families can be of help by encouraging the youth to ask the right vocational questions.
  • The local church can propose specific ways for young people to have real pilgrimage experiences. “It is often through pilgrimage together that we make new friends, and we experience the excitement of sharing the same ideals as we look together towards a common goal with mutual support in difficulties and the joy of sharing the little we have,” the document states.
  • Testimonies of young people who took part in an international World Youth Day deserve to be highlighted. The Vatican guidelines encourage dioceses and eparchies to “ensure that young people who are less present and less active in established pastoral structures do not feel excluded.” The celebrations are a great way to welcome all those young people who may be looking for their place in the Church.

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