.- More than 2,700 American youth, representing 125 college, diocesan and parish groups, will roll up their sleeves and dedicate one day to social action projects in Germany during their pilgrimage to Cologne for World Youth Day (WYD). These pilgrims will work on social action projects with other young people from about 20 German dioceses during the Days of Encounter, a pre-WYD program, Aug. 8-15.
The Days of Encounter provide an opportunity for pilgrims and their hosts to get to know one another and share their faith. But a day of social action is planned Aug. 12, called Under Construction: Help Build a World in Justice.
Both German and international youth will participate in projects that include: excursions with people with disabilities, organizing a soccer tournament with young asylum seekers, gardening for welfare institutions, making wooden toys with children, singing at senior citizens residences, creating a trout hatchery, and putting on sketches about peace and justice.
The U.S. youth participating in the Days of Encounter hail from three Jesuit-sponsored universities — Regis University in Denver, Georgetown University in Washington, and Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles — as well as the University of St. Thomas in Texas.
Other pilgrims taking part in this program come from the archdioceses of Miami, St. Louis, San Antonio and Seattle; and the dioceses of Burlington, Cheyenne, Forth Worth, Lansing, Lincoln, San Jose, Springfield, and Syracuse.
In total, about 24,000 U.S. youth and 72 bishops plan to attend the WYD event, Aug. 16-21, in Cologne.