By Josh Low
Portugal will be the next host of World Youth Day, to be held in July 2022.
The widely anticipated announcement came at the end of the closing Mass (27 January) for this year’s WYD celebration at the Campo San Juan Pablo II in Panama City, the Pope’s final event with pilgrims.
“The next World Youth Day will be held in Portugal,” declared Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Marriage, and Family, whose department is in charge of overseeing World Youth Day planning, at Sunday’s closing WYD Mass.
Portugal had long been rumoured to be the next hosts of WYD, with Lisbon’s Cardinal Manuel Clemente, president of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), having already confirmed the application to serve as the host city.
The original statue of Our Lady of Fatima also made an appearance in Panama, marking the first time it left Portugal since 2000.
A total of 600,000 people had gathered the previous night for the Vigil of the Pope with the youth of WYD Panama 2019, which featured testimonies from young people, musical performances, an address by the Holy Father and Eucharistic Adoration, before a procession of the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima through the crowds.
The following morning saw Holy Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, with some 700,000 people in attendance, before the confirmation of the next WYD venue.
“I thank God for having given us the opportunity to share these days together and to experience once more, this World Youth Day,” the Holy Father said at the end of Mass.
“Your faith and joy have made Panama, the Americas, and the entire world shake!
“As we have heard so many times in these days in the song of this World Youth Day: ‘As your pilgrim people we are gathered here today from every continent and city’.
“We are on a journey, keep walking, keep living the faith and sharing it. Do not forget that you are not the tomorrow, you are not the ‘meantime’; you are the now of God,” Pope Francis said, emphasising the message from his homily.
“Go back to your parishes and communities, to your families and your friends, and share this experience, so that others can resonate with the strength and enthusiasm that is yours.
“With Mary, keep saying ‘yes’ to the dream that God has sown in you. And please, do not forget to pray for me,” Pope Francis concluded.
Panama local and volunteer at WYD Joaquin Diaz said Panamanians were proud to have been able to host this major event.
“Panama has always been a place of transit where people from all cultures meet and where they have emerged, making it a boiling pot of international activity,” he explained.
“As the Pope said at the Vigil, this is like a hub of people for transmitting the faith.
“World Youth Day for us is as important as the World Cup or Olympics. So, we are very pleased to have welcomed the world to our country and we have really tried our best to accommodate everybody,” Mr Diaz said.
“It was really important for us that it happened in our country. People from Panama have really tried to imitate the message of Jesus, and we hope the young people were able to experience that, and hopefully will come back and see more of our country.
“Thanks to God and our Catholic faith it has been something that has brought many people together and we are very proud to have been a part of it,” he concluded.