The Catholic University of America

July 12, 2011

Catholic University to Send its First Student Delegation to World Youth Day


For the first time since World Youth Day (WYD) was begun by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1985, a delegation of students from The Catholic University of America will together attend the international youth gathering this summer.

World Youth Day is a week-long event that celebrates the Catholic faith with Masses, devotions, and audiences with the Pope. It is open to Catholic and non-Catholic youth, and hundreds of thousands attend. The event occurs at a different location every few years. The upcoming WYD takes place in Madrid, Aug. 15-21.

In the past, CUA students have attended WYD with groups from their home parishes and dioceses. This year, 21 students will journey there under Catholic University’s banner. President John Garvey will join them.

“It’s really special to be able to represent our country and our school, and also to be able to be in the presence of the Pope who’s the leader of the Church,” says rising senior nursing major Angela Chite, who is helping lead the Catholic University contingent.

“All the pieces fell into the right places” for the CUA students to go as a group this year, explains soon-to-be senior philosophy major Michael Pratt. He was one of a number of students who approached the Office of Campus Ministry about organizing a CUA delegation.

With contributions from family, friends, fundraisers, and the Student Fee Allocation Board, the group has assembled the funds to cover travel costs — about $2,200 per student.

The Order of Friars Minor Conventual, the religious order from whose ranks the three priests who direct CUA’s Campus Ministry are drawn, will provide overnight accommodations at their Madrid friary and arrange visits to pilgrimage sites like the tomb of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela, before and after the World Youth Day activities.

The students will be accompanied by Rev. Piotr Tymko, O.F.M. Conv., associate chaplain for graduate students; Jamila Evans, associate campus minister for women’s ministry and social justice; and her husband, Josh Evans, doctoral theology student and teaching fellow.

Pratt expects World Youth Day to be “life-changing.” Indeed, Jamila Evans, who attended WYD in 1997 and 2000, confirms it is an “awesome” opportunity to “encounter Christ in a really powerful way through communion in the universal Church.”

The students have been preparing spiritually for the experience. Throughout the spring semester, they met weekly to pray and reflect on the ancient Christian practice of pilgrimage. Over the summer on their own, the students have been studying “Life of Christ” by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which will serve as a catalyst for meditation while abroad.

“We have built a community this spring,” Pratt says of the students’ time together. He looks forward to that “multiplied” by the world’s youth, and he is eager “to be in solidarity with them and to be with the Holy Father.”

Pratt believes that unity in Christ at World Youth Day is a sign of hope for a troubled world.

“Like Pope John Paul II said, we live in the ‘culture of death.’ And he told us, ‘You are the future.’ But we also are the present, the present Church,” Pratt observes.

“You look around the United States, you look around the world, there are so many problems — the economy, abortion, wars. When we gather together, especially in something like this, it’s not ignoring the problems, it’s not ignoring the differences, but it’s uniting in something that’s bigger than all of us and that calls us to be something more than ourselves, more than just peddlers of whatever it is we want to hold on to.”


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