July 18, 2013
Students, President Garvey to Attend World Youth Day
Rising junior Hannah Welz and her fellow travelers from The Catholic University of America have raised money, secured their passports, and read Henri J. M. Nouwen’s spiritual work “Life of the Beloved” in preparation for World Youth Day 2013.
They leave Saturday, July 20, for Rio de Janeiro, where the event is expected to draw two million young people for six days of prayer, the Stations of the Cross, a pilgrimage across Rio de Janeiro to the site of an evening vigil with Pope Francis, and a sleep-out under the stars.
University President John Garvey will join the group in Rio de Janeiro for part of the event, which runs from July 23 to July 28. Garvey and a CUA student group also attended World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.
Welz, an English major from Downingtown, Pa., says she’s excited to participate in the event and to meet the challenge of this year’s World Youth Day theme: "Go and make disciples of all nations!" (Matthew 28, 19).
“I’m really looking forward to being with so many people who share the same faith and with those who don’t share it and to learn in such beautiful setting,” says Welz.
A worldwide encounter with the Pope, World Youth Day typically is celebrated every three years in a different location. This year’s event marks the first time that Pope Francis will attend the gathering.
Welz has wanted to go to World Youth Day since 2008 when it was in Sydney. But back then she had just finished her freshman year of high school. Her older sister went to Sydney that year.
In 2011, Welz says she thought about going to the event site in Madrid, but a trip at that time would have conflicted with freshman Orientation at Catholic University. This time around, she says, “I’ve grown up a bit and developed my faith. It’s really exciting to think about going with my [CUA] group. They’re sure of their faith and ready to learn more about it.”
Luke Hlavin, associate campus minister for retreats and men's ministry and co-leader of the group, says “there’s great joy in helping the students share the special dynamic of World Youth Day.”
In preparation for the trip, Hlavin and co-leader Rev. Marek Stybor, O.F.M. Conv., associate chaplain for faith development, have met frequently with the students who have kept journals while reading “Life of the Beloved” over the summer.
The CUA group will arrive in Brazil Sunday, July 21, and spend several days attending catechetical sessions led by bishops in the morning and prayer opportunities and concerts in the afternoon and evening. Pope Francis will deliver his welcome address at a prayer service expected to take place on July 25.
On July 27, the young pilgrims will start walking to the site of the vigil. The following morning the pope will celebrate Mass and announce the location of the next World Youth Day.
The CUA group will return to the United States on July 31 when the “real work” of World Youth Day begins, says Welz — bringing God’s message of hope to the world. “We can’t just keep the message in Rio. We have to bring it to our homes, our schools, and our neighbors.”