SALT LAKE CITY – This year, with the theme "Go and Make Disciples of All Nations" (Mt 28:19), the World Youth Day will take place from July 23-28 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In conjunction with this, the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry is presenting a World Youth Day Celebration on Saturday, July 27 at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Orem.
"Every two to three years the Pope hosts an international youth day and it’s in a different country each year," said Samantha Almanza, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. "Not all of us are able to go to Brazil because of resources and other obligations, so we thought it would be fun to bring part of the Brazilian culture here [to Utah] and bring the spirit of World Youth Day, which is to gather as young Catholics and share and pray in service in Utah."
Almanza’s office is hosting a World Youth Day celebration during the same week that millions of Catholic youth are gathering in Rio de Janeiro.
"We will have opportunities for the youth to taste Brazilian food; we’ll have samba dances; we’ll have [the youth] learn a Latin drum beat and we are also going to have prayer together," as well as a service project to benefit Catholic Community Services’ Refugee Resettlement program, said Almanza.
"It’s a day full of events that is going to be fun and informative and also an opportunity for Catholics from all over the state to get together to form new friendships."
This is one of the first big events that Almanza’s office is planning, and she is very excited.
"Since I started [at the diocese in January], everyone that I talked to is excited that there is a person in the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. I find that there is a lot of support from the adults, a lot of energy from the youth. They want to do things," said Almanza.
"I am very grateful to everyone who is willing to help out and who have come to my office and have ideas for events that they want to collaborate with; that’s what we are all about, collaborating."
For the local World Youth Day celebration, the service project is going to be presented by Adan Batar, Director of Refugee Resettlement, who will explain about the program and how the service that the youth will do will benefit the refugees. Afterward, the attendees will celebrate and enjoy a mini-carnival, Rio de Janeiro style.
The event also will include a broadcast of the address that Pope Francis is scheduled to give from Rio de Janeiro, followed by discussion, then a Mass celebrated by Father David J. Bittmenn, St. Francis of Assisi pastor.
In 1984 the International Jubilee for the Young was celebrated by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in an event that also marked the close of the Holy Year of Redemption. At this gathering the Holy Father entrusted youth with what is now known as the World Youth Day (WYD) Cross.
The UN declared 1985 the first "International Youth Year" and to celebrate it the Holy Father welcomed youth from all over the world in Rome on Palm Sunday. In December of the same year he announced the institution of World Youth Day.
"This is something that we can do here in Utah; you guys can celebrate in solidarity with the youth from all over the world," said Almanza.
Who: Catholic Youth going into grades 7 – 12
What: World Youth Day Celebration
Where: St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 65 East 500 North, Orem
Cost: $15; includes lunch and dinner.
For registration, contact your parish youth group or call Samantha Almanza, 801-328-8641 ext.313.