Panama City. From 6 to 10 June 2018 around 250 delegates from all over the world, representing the offices of the Youth Ministry of Episcopal Conferences, Movements, and Ecclesial Associations, met in Panama for the II preparatory meeting for the next World Youth Day, to be held in Panama from 22 to 27 January 2019.
Representing the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) were Renato Cursi, of the Salesian Youth Ministry Department, and Sr. Maria del Carmen Durán, Youth Ministry Coordinator of the Central America South Province of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The meeting was organized by the Local Organizing Committee (COL) of WYD, chaired by the Archbishop of Panama, Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, and by the Dicastery of the Holy See for the Laity, the Family and Life, represented on this occasion from the Secretary, Father Alexandre Awi Mello, and from the Head of the Youth Section, Father João Chagas.
Also present were the Panamanian civil authorities, witnessing a continuous and fruitful dialogue with the ecclesial actors involved in the preparation of the WYD. The President of the Republic of Panama intervened unexpectedly in this preparatory meeting, offering a greeting address and answering the questions of the delegates at the end of the morning of Friday, June 8th.
This international meeting offered the participants the opportunity to check the progress of the preparations under way for the WYD, get to know the local leaders better and visit the places where the central events of the Day will take place, such as the opening Mass of the Tuesday, January 22, the arrival of Pope Francis in Panama on Thursday, January 24, the Via Crucis the following day, the Saturday Night Prayer Vigil, and the closing Mass on Sunday, January 27, 2019. At the end of the preparatory meeting, the delegates left for their countries very satisfied with the information received, but above all because of the family and positive atmosphere witnessed by the Panamanian Church on this occasion.
The next World Youth Day will have a strong Marian connotation, with a vocational and missionary perspective at the same time. Pope Francis wanted to call this Day, which closes a cycle of three World Youth Days dedicated to Mary, referring to the sentence pronounced by the Mother of Jesus on the occasion of the Annunciation: “I am the servant of the Lord, make me of me according to your word”.
The invitation to young people is to have and be hope for the future, thus linking also with the theme chosen for the next Synod of Bishops, which will be celebrated in October 2018: “Youth, faith and vocational discernment”.
About 5,000 young people of the Salesian Youth Movement from the five continents are expected in January in Panama. On each of them, Wednesday 23 January 2019, an opportunity will be offered to meet in an atmosphere of Salesian family spirit, with moments of reflection, dialogue, celebration and prayer, with the participation of the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco and of the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
In the morning, some national delegations will be able to meet in the SYM Forum, at the Basilica of St. John Bosco in the Calidonia district of Panama City, while in the afternoon all the groups that register will participate in the SYM Festival at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Panama, which will end with the Prayer Vigil and the Salesian Goodnight of the Rector Major and of the Mother General.