By Val Morgan, SCIAF (Caritas Scotland)

Scotland’s Rio is an event for the young people of Scotland to coincide with the World Youth Day being celebrated with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. It will take place at Stirling University Campus from Thursday 25 – Sunday 28 July, 2013.

We hope to give young people from across Scotland the opportunity to experience something of the celebration of the international World Youth Day.

Elizabeth Millar, one of the organisers of the event said, “Scotland’s Rio will be an exciting and inspiring occasion for all involved, and it will give the Church in Scotland a reason to celebrate and be enthusiastic about what young people today can offer the Church both locally, nationally and internationally!”

There will be opportunities for celebrating and learning about the Catholic faith through worship and catechesis. The Youth Festival will offer an opportunity to participate in a range of cultural and enjoyable events which we hope will bring a flavour of Rio to Scotland.  Of course, there will also be time for informal chat and discussion and for meeting together socially.

Around 220 young people from Scotland (including some pilgrims from Down and Connor diocese) have registered so far, bookings are still open and are open to young people from 14-25 years old. Participants will be staying in the university halls of residence which consist of single rooms in flats.

A full liturgical and workshop programme has involved many groups, agencies (including SCIAF), orders and movements of the Church in Scotland.  Up to 54 workshop choices will be offered.

Significant donations have been made by funders to help subsidise the cost of the event for young people.

Social opportunities – including a Ceilidh (traditional music and dancing), Brazilian Festival and a barbecue (to which families of the young people are invited on the last day) are all planned.  The university’s excellent sports facilities will also be available.

Stirling University has supported our vision with great generosity.  The events will make use of the main university Pathfoot Building, although all the prayer and worship events will take place in a customised marquee.

Scotland’s Rio will conclude with a Pilgrim walk to the local parish followed by Mass and then a barbecue for all friends, family and parishioners of the local community.

The event will help foster self-worth, community spirit and understanding of others, as well as giving an opportunity to grow in faith.

SCIAF will have a stand at the event and will also run a workshop on the issue of creating a more just world for all.  The organisation’s charity’s Schools Officer Mark Booker said:

“Young people are a vital part of SCIAF’s mission to create a more just world for all.  Being part of the Scottish celebrations of World Youth Day is a great way for us to engage with more young people and I’m sure our workshop on social justice and how SCIAF is promoting it in some of the poorest countries in the world will be interesting and fun.”