A pilgrim prepares for WYD in Rio. All image rights reserved by the Comunications Department of WYD 2013

A pilgrim prepares for WYD in Rio. All image rights reserved by the Comunications Department of WYD 2013

World Youth Day 23rd-28th July

By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis

Read in Spanish.

Pope Francis now has more people following him on twitter in Spanish than he has in English (well over a cool 2.5 million followers in each language).  Seeing as up to three-quarters of twitter users are said to be between 15 and 25 years old, that’s a good sign for the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil.

Around two million young pilgrims are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro where they’ll join Pope Francis on Copacabana beach and in other places to take part in various events such as catecheses, masses and a vigil. I’ll be with them, applying sun cream and anti-aging creams at frequent intervals and working with my colleagues from Caritas Brazil to provide the 164 organisations in our global confederation with blogs, press releases and photos.

The theme of WYD 2013 is “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).  Speaking on Palm Sunday this year, Pope Francis said, “You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world!…You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.”

But before WYD, Caritas Brazil will mobilise and motivate the young people of Caritas in a two-day youth meeting ahead of “missionary week” activities (16th-22nd July). Young people from across Latin America will gather in dioceses in Minas Gerais to exchange experiences, receive training and discuss themes such poverty, hunger and the care of creation. The theme will be “Share the bread so that young people can have life”.

On the first day of WYD Caritas will hold a march in Rio against hunger, violence and poverty together with several Catholic youth ministries and other partners.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis will be at WYD to present catecheses from 24-26 July.

All in all, two very busy weeks for Caritas. I’ll be tracking down those young faces of Caritas to see just what it is that inspires them. I’ll tweet and blog through my jetlag on how things are going @michelle.caritas and I’ll try to keep up with Pope Francis @pontifex /_pt /_es and our Cardinal Rodriguez as they use their boundless energy and enthusiasm to accompany the young people of the world on their journey from virtual followers to real disciples.

If you’re in going to Brazil with Caritas and want to tell me about your hopes and expectations, please write to me on hough@caritas.va

Read about Caritas Brazil’s preparations for World Youth Day in Portuguese.

More information about Caritas before and at WYD.

Consult the official programme for World Youth Day.