The Vatican has released on Tuesday, May 18, new pastoral guidelines for the local celebrations of World Youth Day.
The pastoral guidelines outline six “cornerstones that must be at the heart of every WYD,” including making the event a joyful festival of faith, an experience of ecclesial communion, an opportunity for discernment, and an experience of pilgrimage.
Aside from the World Youth Day gatherings held every three years, the Catholic Church holds local youth day celebrations.
The guidelines noted that some young people cannot take part in international WYDs because of their studies, work or financial difficulties, thus local Churches are encouraged to offer young people “a personal experience of a ‘festival of faith’ that can be a powerful occasion for witnessing, communion and prayer similar to the international events.”
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life said the guidelines are “intended to be a resource that presents the ideal motivations and possible practical implementations.”
In November last year, Pope Francis called for a relaunch of the WYD celebration in local churches, which is traditionally held on Palm Sunday, to the Sunday of the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The guidelines invite local churches to place young people at the center of pastoral attention, praying for them, engaging them as protagonists to promote communications campaigns, among other things, during the celebration.
Dioceses are also to consider the celebrations as part of a “broader pastoral journey of which WYD is only one stage” in line with Pope Francis’ recommendation that “youth ministry has to be synodal; it should involve journeying together.”
The guidelines stress that the WYD celebration be an occasion for “young people to experience ecclesial communion and to grow in their awareness of being an integral part of the Church.”
Bishops are also encouraged to be present during the celebration to show young people “a clear sign of love and closeness” in the pastoral style of proximity encouraged by Pope Francis.
The guidelines also encourage priority for the vocation dimension of the WYD, which aims to 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 are encouraged to help and “by their presence and witness … help to prompt young people to ask the right vocational questions.”
The pastoral guidelines also recommend that diocesan WYD celebrations can propose specific ways for young people to have real pilgrimage experiences.
The next World Youth Day is scheduled to take place in Lisbon, Portugal, in August 2023.
The last international World Youth Day took place in Panama in January 2019, drawing an estimated 700,000 young Catholics.