.- More than 300,000 young people from all over the world will be welcomed by families across Spain prior to the beginning of World Youth Day 2011. The pilgrims will participate in the week long “Days in the Dioceses,” in preparation for the massive event expected to draw two million young people.
The “Days in the Diocese,” a program which first began in World Youth Day Paris in 1997 and serves to help young people prepare for the event, which will take place August 11-15 in cities across Spain.
Some 150,000 young Catholics from 137 countries have registered so far, and 12 of the 63 dioceses that will be welcoming them are already completely booked.
The director of the program, Javier Igea, said that the days will include cultural activities, visits to historical places of interest, festivals, prayers and Masses at the well-known churches in each diocese. Thanking local officials for opening the doors of their communities to the young people, he especially singled out officials in the region of Valladolid, where numerous city mayors themselves requested to host World Youth Day attendees.
Throughout Spain, extra efforts are being made to offer young people room and board free of charge. Those traveling from poorer countries will automatically qualify for the free hospitality, including 260 Haitians who will stay in Ciudad Real, along with 2,000 young people from other countries.
Two contests that will grant awards in journalism and video production by young people will also be part of the “Days in the Dioceses.”
Igea said the contest, “Madrid on Video,” would give young people the chance to submit short videos that will be shown before the main World Youth Day events. Those that receive the most votes at www.envideomadrid.org will be selected.