Diocesan News

Diocese Starts Planning For World Youth Day 2023

The Diocese of Brooklyn has participated in several World Youth Day gatherings over the years, including the 2019 event in Panama City. (Photo: Courtesy of Father Gerard Sauer)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — World Youth Day 2023 could have a bonus for Diocese of Brooklyn pilgrims who attend the global gathering in Lisbon, Portugal: a side trip to Fatima, site of the Blessed Mother’s apparition to three peasant children in 1916.

“The goal is to get everyone to Fatima for one night so the pilgrims can experience the candlelight procession,” said Father Gerard Sauer, vicar for pilgrimages for the diocese, who is coordinating the World Youth Day plans.

The possibility of an excursion to Fatima was just one of the aspects of World Youth Day discussed at a Zoom meeting Father Sauer held Jan. 19 with Father Emil Parafiniuk, director of  Youth and Young Adult Faith Formation, and youth ministers from around the diocese.

World Youth Day will take place Aug. 1-6, 2023. Events will include a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, catechesis sessions, the Stations of the Cross and an overnight camping experience. 

Father Sauer said Bishop Robert Brennan will travel to Portugal with the pilgrims as well, and added: “We’re happy to have our shepherd join us.”

Plans for the diocese’s participation in World Youth Day are still being developed. The trip is open to young people ages 16 and up. Each parish will be sending chaperones to accompany the youths.

In addition to travel preparations, young people should make spiritual preparations, Father Parafiniuk said, reminding the meeting’s participants, “It is a pilgrimage.” 

Because Lisbon is a smaller city (population 504,000) than most European capitals, its hotels are smaller and it’s likely that the diocese pilgrims will have to be spread out among several hotels, Father Sauer said.

The diocesan continent will probably arrive in Portugal on July 30, a day before the start of World Youth Day, and leave for home on Aug. 7, the day after the event ends. 

But some parishes might choose to tack on a European excursion either right before or right after World Youth Day, said Karen Rohrecker, director of sales for Peter’s Way Tours, a Long Island company handling travel arrangements for the diocese. 

“Typically, it’s a parish that will say, ‘We want to do the Camino after World Youth Day,’ and then we would prepare a separate, more customized proposal just for that parish leader,” she said. It was a reference to the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St, James, a pilgrimage to the Portuguese city of Santiago de Compostela. 

Rohrecker and Peter Bahou, president of Peter’s Way Tours, outlined the tour package they are offering. 

Their package costs $4,230 per person. Two deposits are required. The first payment — a $500 deposit — is due this June 15. On Sept. 15, a second deposit of $1,500 is due. The balance must be paid in full by March 31, 2023.

Many of the questions from youth ministers centered on COVID restrictions and what actions will be taken if a traveler contracts the virus while at World Youth Day. 

While it’s not clear what restrictions will be in place next year, Portugal currently requires visitors to show proof of being fully vaccinated in order to enter the country. 

The theme of World Youth Day 2023 is “Mary rose and went with haste,” a reference to the Visitation as described in the Gospel of Saint Luke. The gathering was originally scheduled for July, 2022 but was postponed a year by the Holy See due to the ongoing pandemic.