.- With 409 days remaining before the World Youth Day celebrations open in Madrid, the organizers of the event are reporting that over 600,000 pilgrims from countries outside Spain have pre-registered to take part in the week-long encounter with the Holy Father.
The event, which will take place in Madrid from August 16-21, 2011, is a week long journey of faith and solidarity for young people around the world. The large international gathering occurs every three years, and culminates with vespers, an overnight vigil and an outdoor Mass celebrated by the Pope.
So far, organizers report that 120,000 Italians, 70,000 French, 50,000 Poles and 25,000 North Americans have signed up for the event. The majority of the pilgrims have signed up in groups, whether it be from their diocese, youth group, parish, or other organization.
Each pilgrim is required to pay a registration fee based on their country of origin, the length of their stay and the services they will require.
Though part of the fee will help finance the event, a part of each pilgrim’s registration fee will be set aside in a “solidarity fund” which will help pay the cost of the trip and their stay for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. World Youth Day “is not for the rich, but rather for everyone, for those who come from Madagascar and from the south of Latin America.” said Bishop Cesar Franco, an auxiliary bishop in Madrid. He underlined the necessity of the 10 Euro contribution to the “solidarity fund” which has been added to each pilgrim’s registration. In this sense he said, they have appealed to the youth to be “generous.”
Registration this year is taking place online. The website www.madrid11.com was designed by ISBAN, with the financial support of various Spanish institutions. At the end of the event, the Archdiocese of Madrid will make a gift of the system to the Vatican, in the hopes that it can be used to help organize future pilgrimages. The system, which features a two-layer page, will collect personal information via a secure connection in order to help the archbishop and coordinators know more about the pilgrims and their needs in order to better serve them.
Though registration is not required to participate in all the events, the organization behind WYD Madrid 2011 is hoping to register at least 40 percent of the people who will attend. They are also projecting that the event will draw a crowd that is 15 percent larger than those of previous World Youth Days.