Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2016 / 02:46 am
Since the very first World Youth Day in 1986, the international Catholic event has been marked by prayer, music, and fellowship among thousands of young people eager to encounter the Pope.
This year’s gathering in Krakow, Poland will feature the same elements – but it will also be unique, with the Pope’s visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Paul Jarzembowski, the World Youth Day USA Coordinator at the U.S. bishops’ conference, explained that the structure of the global gathering is intended to reflect the saving events of Triduum – the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
The Friday of every World Youth Day is a commemoration of Good Friday. A vigil is held on Saturday, and Sunday remembers Easter joy with the celebration of Mass.
“The normal experience of World Youth Day highlights the paschal mystery,” Jarzembowski told CNA.
“The fact that Pope Francis is going to be visiting Auschwitz on Friday, which is always the reflective day of the week, will be very appropriate,” he said. “I don’t think it will change the tone of World Youth Day. It will highlight even more that this experience is very paschal.”
In addition to visiting the speeches, Masses and prayer reflections, Pope Francis’ July 25-31 itinerary for World Youth Day in Poland includes a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
“In this Year of Mercy,” Jarzembowski said, “it is certainly important for Pope Francis and the Church to remember, by his example, times when the world has not been as merciful.”