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Here’s how many American pilgrims are headed to World Youth Day in Lisbon

Portuguese pilgrims at WYD 2019, excited that their home country is set to host the next World Youth Day. | Jonah McKeown/CNA

Boston, Mass., Jul 24, 2023 / 14:49 pm

More than 28,600 young adults from 1,300 U.S. groups are headed to Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day next week.

The pilgrims number more than twice the amount of U.S. attendees who went to the 2019 World Youth Day in Panama, according to numbers from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The celebration in Panama took place in January. The last World Youth Day celebration to take place in the summer was when it was held in 2016 in Krakow, Poland, when more than 40,000 Americans were registered to attend.

World Youth Day, a global event for young people that takes place about every three years, offers a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ through liturgical celebrations, networking, faith sharing, catechetical sessions, and prayer with the Holy Father.

Established by Pope John Paul II in 1985, the weeklong World Youth Day celebrations usually attract hundreds of thousands of young people from across the globe.

The U.S. delegation is one of the five largest participating in World Youth Day, and registration numbers are still rising, according to a statement from the U.S. bishops.

The event this year will take place from Aug. 1–6. Most of the attendees in the U.S. delegation are between the ages of 18 and 25.

For more information and live coverage of World Youth Day, visit EWTN World Youth Day Central.

Winona-Rochester Bishop Robert Barron, who is traveling to Lisbon along with 60 other U.S. bishops, said in a statement that “our country is very much looking forward to this pilgrimage.”

“This is a wonderful occasion for young adults to have a significant encounter with Jesus Christ in the company of the universal Church,” said Barron, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.

“It is also a moment when the Holy Father and the Church’s leadership get an opportunity to listen to the young people present, teach and form them in the Gospel, and ultimately send them towards their vocation and mission in the world,” he added.

Pope Francis will be joining the pilgrims for different events each day during World Youth Day, which has the theme “Mary arose and went with haste.”

On Aug. 3, the pope will be present for a welcome ceremony. ​​On Aug. 4, he will lead the Stations of the Cross and will also hear confessions of some young people at Jardim Vasco da Gama.

He will preside over a prayer vigil on Aug. 5 and pray the holy rosary with sick young people.

The Holy Father will celebrate the closing Mass on Aug. 6.

Pilgrims from the U.S. will be housed in parishes, campuses, homes, and hotels surrounding Lisbon, according to the bishops’ statement. Participants are invited to daily catechetical sessions for the young adults led by 35 U.S. bishops.

U.S. pilgrims will gather in Parque da Quinta das Conchas at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2 for an event that will include testimony, music, and eucharistic adoration.

Bishop Barron will speak at the gathering and Dallas Bishop Edward Burns will lead eucharistic adoration, the statement said.


Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.

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