WASHINGTON - The following statement has been issued by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in response to Pope Francis' call to begin preparations for the international World Youth Day (WYD) being held in Panama in 2019. The Pope has announced three themes for upcoming years in the lead-up to the international and stateside WYDs in 2019. World Youth Days for 2017 and 2018 will be celebrated in local dioceses around the world in preparation for the global celebrations for youth and young adults in 2019. The statement below also addresses the Synod on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, scheduled to take place October, 2018.
Pope Francis' themes for each of the three World Youth Days are:
32nd World Youth Day, 2017: "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name." (Lk 1:49)
33rd World Youth Day, 2018: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (Lk 1:30)
34th World Youth Day, 2019: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38)
Full joint statement follows:
We anticipate, with great joy, the three-year journey the Holy Father has asked us to take with youth and young adults towards World Youth Day and to the upcoming Synod on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.
It is fitting that we should receive these themes as we enter the season of Advent, with their focus on the words and experiences of young Mary at her home in Nazareth.
As His Excellency, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, told us this month at our General Assembly in Baltimore:
"...the whole Church and each of its members must decide to go to and walk with our young people: to each and everyone, from an awareness of carrying out a prophetic task."
In that same spirit, the themes of these next three years challenge us to accompany and support youth and young adults as they, in the company of our Blessed Mother, reflect on the past, engage in the present moment, and look to the future with hope. We know young people across our country are struggling and seeking connections, and we commit to walking alongside them more intentionally, listening to their concerns, and ultimately pointing them towards Christ and wherever God calls them.
We hope our brother bishops, and all leaders of the Church, will use this journey over the next three years as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to young people and our ministries with them. In this Advent season, we anticipate this pilgrimage, ultimately leading to Christ Jesus and his kingdom.
In all this, we rely on the prayers of Mary, who, as a young person herself, said with a firm reliance on God: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. is the Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano is a member of the Committee and serves as the USCCB Episcopal Liaison to World Youth Day.