“Dear young people of the world, WYD in Rio has begun!”

sma_JMJ day 2-572

Rio de Janeiro, 23 July 2013
The first day was accompanied by a light but insistent rain. However there was nothing that could discourage the youth’s pacific invasion for WYD. On the metro, in the streets, in every single Church, there are groups of youth on the move or in prayer, often with musical instruments, always full of life and with smiles on their faces.

The official data that the Sala Stampa has given us reveals that 355 thousand youth have registered, with a female majority, coming from  175 countries from around the world. The most numerous are obviously the Brazilians that come to 22.000 registered; then Argentina with 23.000, the US with 10.200, Chile with 9, 200, Italy with 7.700 and Venezuela with 6.100. A great part of these youth - 127.000 - are being welcomed as guests by families in Rio de Janeiro; 227.000 are staying in colleges and parishes and the other 5.000 in schools around the city.

But beyond numbers is the atmosphere of celebration that has swept through every corner of the city, from the Centre - where the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, holding 20.000 people, has become one of the favourite destinations for pilgrims - to the Copacabana beach, that already from the first hours of the afternoon, despite the rain, has begun to fill up with people waiting in anticipation for the opening Mass.

The evening marked the official opening of the WYD XXVIII with the opening ceremony and Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Dom Orani Joao Tempesta. The ceremony was opened by the arrival of the WYD Cross and the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, and closed with an address made by his Eminence Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, where in Portuguese, he gave his welcome and remembered the particular characteristics of this WYD: “World Youth Day in Rio is quite special. It returns to Latin America after 26 years, this young continent full of hope. It is worth recalling what Blessed John Paul II said to the young people at WYD in Buenos Aires back in 1987. He said: “I want to repeat to you something I said on the first day of my pontificate: you are the hope of the pope, you are the hope of the Church”. He went on to say, “Yes. I too want to repeat with you: ‘Latin America, be yourself! In your fidelity to Christ, resist those who try to suffocate your vocation of hope”. WYD in Rio is also special because it was called and prepared by Pope Benedict XVI and will be presided by Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope. The ways of the Lord are truly amazing!’”

“This WYD is taking place at the foot of the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado. He is the central person of this event. His heart beats with infinite love for each one of you, and his open arms are ready to welcome you all. During this WYD, allow yourselves to be embraced by Christ! Entrust all your desires to Him, and all your plans for the future and your deepest joys. Also entrust to Him the difficult choices you have to make, and the fears and concerns that you hold in your hearts. Youth is a great treasure. You possess it, and you must let it bear fruit.

Entrust it to Christ! The person who chooses Christ loses nothing – absolutely nothing. On the contrary, they gain everything and find true happiness and fullness of life.”
“The guiding theme of this WYD is, as you know, the missionary mandate that Christ entrusted to his Church: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf Mt 28:19). This mission is the Church’s reason for being, and that of every Christian. We are all invited to be salt of the earth and light of the world. During this WYD, Christ calls us to go out from ourselves – as Pope Francis often tells us. Christ asks us to turn away from our comfortable lives, to knock down the walls of our selfishness, and to go with courage to the geographic and existential peripheries of the world, and to take Christ and his Gospel there.”
“Christ needs you young people with your young faith, full of joy and missionary enthusiasm. Christ is counting on each one of you.”

“Dear young people of the world, WYD in Rio has begun!”

In the same marvelous scene of the Copacabana beach these words have created such joy among the hundreds and thousands of youth present: the celebration has begun, but there is still a great anticipation for the meeting with Pope Francis, who has been resting a little today after his long trip over.

“Dear young people of the world, WYD in Rio has begun!”


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