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Pilgrim Year of Preparation

Bishops wait for the start of Pope Francis' celebration of the closing Mass of World Youth Day at Campus Misericordiae in Krakow, Poland, July 31. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

July 2018 to January 2019

You are already on pilgrimage!  Welcome to the way!

The journey towards the mountaintop experience of World Youth Day began when you said "yes" to the Lord's call to make this trip. 

To prepare you for the encounter with Christ at the summit of your pilgrimage, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has developed several resources so that you will be ready for such an encounter.

Remember: preparing for this event is as much a part of the pilgrimage of faith as the international activities in Panama in January 2019. Pope Francis has encouraged all pilgrims to “prepare well,  prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering may be a sign of faith for the whole world!”

Bishop Michael Mulvey, a World Youth Day alumnus, has this to say about pilgrimage: 

Many times as we live the routine of our daily lives, we forget about the internal movement that is happening through our faith in Jesus Christ.  A pilgrimage is not only a physical journey, but an internal movement of faith moving toward a greater reality. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.”  World Youth Day is a hallmark of that presence of Jesus among His people in an extraordinary way.  It is a people that is moving forward and coming together from all parts of the world to celebrate that faith together.

On this page, you will find links to various resources, suggestions, and ideas (and more will be added as the World Youth Day events in Panama draw ever nearer). Even if you are not able to travel to Panama in 2019 but plan to participate locally, you are still a pilgrim on the journey. We encourage all youth and young adults across the United States to use these tools for an encounter with Christ and the Church, whether that in Panama, or in one's local parish, campus, or diocese, or at home and via social media. God be with you on your journey! Buen Camino!

 Image of the transfiguration from the Walters Art Museum.

SITES of Catholic Heritage in the UNITED STATES

Check out this comprehensive guide to shrines and sanctuaries, churches and cathedrals connected to the themes and aspects of the World Youth Day events, places touched by a pope (in particular Saint John Paul II, one of the primary patrons of World Youth Day), and many other pilgrim destinations across the United States. Consider visiting these places during the year preceding Panama 2019 as a way to prepare your heart for World Youth Day. 

World Youth Day and World Youth Day USA official prayers

The official World Youth Day Panama Prayer has been offered by the international World Youth Day organizing committee in preparation for WYD Panama.

The World Youth Day Prayer for the United States (The WYDUSA Prayer) has been developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as a way to united and connect all pilgrims from the United States (who will celebrate stateside or internationally in 2019), as well as the friends, families, and church communities who journey with them in spirit. 

Prayer is an essential component to the pilgrimage experience. Consider using both of these prayers in your preparation.

World Youth Day USA Prayer
in preparation for World Youth Day 2019

God our Father,
be with us on our pilgrim journey of faith.
Give us the grace and the courage to step forward in faith and hope on the road ahead.

Lord Jesus,
open our eyes to see your face in all those we encounter.
Open our ears to hear your voice in those who are often ignored.
Open our hearts that we might be faithful disciples of mercy and truth.

Holy Spirit,
transform us. Empower us to give ourselves to the poor, to welcome the lost,
to forgive those who hurt us, to comfort those who suffer and are marginalized.

Bless those who travel on mission from the United States of America
to Panamá, where east and west and north and south come together,
to join the universal Church for the international World Youth Day gathering.

Bless, too, the digital pilgrims and those who celebrate stateside,
united in faith and joy, witnesses of God's love in their communities.

Like the disciples who journeyed up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration,
may this experience be an encounter that strengthens us for our work in the world.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas,
may we be worthy witnesses of our faith, humble representatives of our country,
and inspired missionaries bringing peace, hope, and mercy into our communities.

St. John Paul II, father and patron of World Youth Day, pray for us.
St. James the Apostle, patron of pilgrim travelers, pray for us.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, young faithful witness from our native land, pray for us.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, patroness of missionaries and advocate for youth,
pray for us.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, man of the beatitudes and patron of young adults,
pray for us.

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord...that we may walk in his paths.
Micah 4:2


Patron Saints

Check out this list of holy men and women who serve as patrons to World Youth Day pilgrims from the United States and who, among the Communion of Saints, have been praying for this event and for your journey. 

People pack St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for the beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) A statue of St. John Paul II with his arms raised in a greeting welcomes visitors to Krakow, Poland.

Lectio divina

This three part Lectio Divina spiritual exercise series was created specifically for pilgrims preparing to participate in World Youth Day in 2019. 


For the pilgrim, the experience [of a World Youth Day pilgrimage] is not easy.  It requires fortitude, patience, flexibility and even sacrifice.  But those who undertake it find themselves lifted up, proud for having met the challenges and grown in friendship with Jesus. 
-- Bishop Robert Brennan 


Inspirational & Useful Resources

Pilgrims attend the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Official World Youth Day Panama Prayer

Merciful Father,
You call us to live our lives as a way of salvation
Help us to recall the past with gratitude,
to embrace the present with courage
and to build the future with hope. 

Lord Jesus, our friend and brother,
thank you for looking upon us with love.
Let us listen to your voice
as it resonates in the hearts of each one with
the strength and light of the Holy Spirit

Grant us the grace of being a Church
that goes forth with vibrant faith and a youthful face
to communicate the joy of the Gospel.
May we help to build up the kind of society we long for,
one where there is fairness and fellowship.

We pray for the Pope and the bishops;
for young people; for all those who will take part
in World Youth Day in Panama
and for those who are preparing to welcome them. 

Our Lady of Antigua, Patroness of Panama,
help us to pray and live with generosity like yours:
"I am the servant of the Lord.
May it be done to me
according to your word" (Lk 1:38). Amen.

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