The Archdiocese of Cebu will be holding the National Youth Day (NYD) from 23-28 April as part of the celebration of the current Year of Youth by the Catholic Church of the Philippines.
Since the start of the NYD in 1986, this is the first time that Cebu will be hosting the event from April 23 to 28, in which some 12,000 young pilgrims are expected to participate.
The upcoming event demonstrates the capacity of the archdiocese to hold the biggest gathering of Catholic youth of the Philippines.
Addressing a press conference in Cebu City, Archbishop Jose Palma said they are anticipating a wonderful event in the archdiocese. "Let us pray that this would be peaceful, joyful and fruitful and full of promise for our young people," he said.
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia will join the event on 27 April and join in a dialogue with young people.
More than 30 members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) led by its president, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, have pledged their participation.
While 11,692 pilgrims have formally registered, the figure could reach to as many as 18,000 with the participation of priests, nuns, volunteers, and unregistered locals especially at the concluding Mass to be presided over by Archbishop Caccia.
The youth pilgrims will be staying in more than 3,000 host families and common spaces like seminaries and convent dormitories.
Frankel Gerard Margallo, Cebu archdiocesan youth coordinator, said around 90 percent of the pilgrims are coming from different dioceses outside Cebu.
One of the highlights of the five-day gathering is the youth festival which will be held across Metro Cebu.
Hosted in nine locations, the youth festival will engage the pilgrims in various expressions of art, music and culture.
Various activities will center on the theme "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your word", which was also the theme of the World Youth Day in Panama, January 22-27, 2019, which Pope Francis attended.
"This will be a festive, formative and prayerful gathering," said Fr Mark Rommel Barneso, NYD Steering Team Leader.
Year of Youth 2019 is a part of a nine-year preparation by the Philippine Catholic Church for the celebration of the 5th centenary of the arrival of Christianity in the land in 2021.
The preparation kicked off in 2013, with each year dedicated to a specific theme related to the faith and new evangelization. 2018 was dedicated to the clergy and the religious.
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