Lisbon (Portugal). On 15 and 16 October there took place at Lisbon, in Don Bosco Salesian House of St. Anthony Province (P0R) the National Encounter of WYD DON BOSCO 23,
the organization of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) which deals with the convocation and participation of young people from Salesian realities around the world in World Youth Day 2023.
“Let’s go to WYD” was the theme of the meeting, coordinated by a team of WYDDB23, which was attended by about 400 young people from all the Salesian houses of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Salesians of Don Bosco, from north to south Portugal, with the main objective of celebrating and valuing the journey of preparation for WYD, which will be held in Lisbon from 1 to 6 August 2023.
‘Special’ participants were also Sr. Runita Borja, World Councilor for Youth Ministry of the FMA Institute; Sr. Lolia Annie, collaborator of the Sector; and Fr. Jose Lorbeth Vivo, SDB, member of the SDB Youth Ministry Department, who with Sr. Lolia, follows the journey of WYD around the world.
The meeting integrated various experiences and testimonies, moments of spirituality and formation in dynamics and workshops, such as those on the life and spirituality of the 13 Patron Saints of WYD 2023: St. John Paul II, St. John Bosco, St. Vincent, St. Anthony, St. Bartholomew of the Martyrs, St. John of Brito, Blessed Joan of Portugal, Blessed Giovanni Fernandes, Blessed Maria Clara of the Child Jesus, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Marcel Callo, Blessed Chiara Badano, and Blessed Carlo Acutis chosen by the Organizing Committee of Lisbon for having dedicated their life to the service of youth. Many of the saints are from Europe, while others are originally from Portugal, underlining the faith of the local population.
The workshops were held by members of the Salesian Family: SDB, FMA, animators, educators, and by other guests, such as the Franciscan Hospitallers of the Immaculate Conception.
At various times the participants listened to the testimonies of the life of some young people and educators related to the celebration of WYD and of how they embodied this experience in everyday life, bearing witness to Jesus, proclaiming the Gospel, and putting themselves at the service of the needy.
On the afternoon of 15 October, the young people went on a pilgrimage through the city of Lisbon, visiting the churches and other places where WYD 2023 will take place. The walk, centered on the Message of Pope Francis for the 37th WYD – “Mary got up and went quickly” (Lk 1:39) – led them to meditate on the figure of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and, following her example, to set out to meet God and others. The groups, divided by houses of origin, had the opportunity to visit the most emblematic places of the city of Lisbon, such as the Church of San Domenico, the Cathedral of Lisbon, and the Terreiro do Paço, the most famous Square in the Country.
The day ended with the Salesian feast, with musical performances, and a prayer vigil that invited us to reflect on the path of holiness of all Christians, with the testimonies of participation in WYD by Sr. Diana Arrobas, FMA, Fr. Ronaldo Pereira, and Fr. Juan Freitas, SDB.
In the Good Night, Sr. Runita Borja spoke of three fundamental dimensions for living Salesian youth spirituality: joy, community, and Mary! Throughout the night, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for the adoration of the young people, who in turn lived this intense spiritual time.
With the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by the SDB Provincial, Fr. José Aníbal Mendonça, and with gratitude for the participation of many young people from the different houses, the two days ended, lived as a time of grace and Salesian charism, which renewed in the young people of the SYM of Portugal the desire and the joy of walking together towards WYD 2023.
Approaching the event, a great sense of hospitality and service to all the young people of the world who are preparing to celebrate WYD together with Pope Francis is perceived more and more strongly in them.
From 17 to 19 October 2022, the WYDDB23 team also participated in the International Meeting held in Fatima in order to share, dream, plan, and pray together for the next WYD in which were united all the teams of the local Organizing Committee met (COL) with the representatives of the Episcopal Conferences and Youth Ministry from all over the world, and the Movements and the Congregations. Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, opened the meeting to assess the state of the organization of the August event and promote the active participation of all young people.