Young adults looking to rekindle their faith, draw inspiration or have a chance to meet others searching for deeper meaning in life are invited to attend a major gathering of young adults and young families set for July 22 in Washington, D.C.
Co-hosted by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, “World Youth Day UNITE” is expected to draw thousands to the St. John Paul II National Shrine and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The national event comes in advance of 2019’s World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama, and is modeled after the international World Youth Days begun by St. John Paul II.
Sarah Jarzembowski, coordinator for young adult and college campus ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said World Youth Day UNITE is open to young adults 18-39 — single, married, with children and without, of all cultural families and varying degrees of participation in the church. Nearly 30 dioceses from four countries will be represented at the event, she said.
For young families with children, babysitting services will be available during certain time periods for children 2-12.
“If you have not been to church in a while, we invite you to come and check things out,” Jarzembowski said. “We’ll hear talks from some of the most dynamic bishops in our country as well as sing praise with internationally-known musicians.”
Featured performers will include Audrey Assad, the daughter of a Syrian refugee, who is a popular songwriter and singer.
Tony Melendez, a musician who plays the guitar with his feet, will also perform, sharing his story of being born without arms. Melendez received global attention in 1987 when he performed for St. John Paul II in Los Angeles. He has sung across the globe, spreading a message of hope, faith and encouragement.
Bishop Mark E. Brennan, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, will lead a prayer procession with the relics of St. John Paul II and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, patrons of young adults.
Bishop Nelson J. Perez, auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, and Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., will give keynote addresses. The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy will lead an hour of mercy, followed by Mass celebrated by Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl. There will also be opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation.
Daniel Meola, evangelization and catechesis specialist at the St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington and one of the coordinators of World Youth Day UNITE, said the theme of the event is “The Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Me and Holy is His Name.” It was chosen by Pope Francis for national world youth days held across the world during the off years of the international world youth day, Meola said.
“With this theme, I think Pope Francis wants to encourage the youth to do great things for the church and society by first pondering where they have been,” Meola said. “Once we see the ways God has already been at work in our lives we are then spurred on to love like Christ more deeply.”
Eucharistic adoration will be a key component of World Youth Day UNITE, Meola said, offering a profound encounter with Christ.
Jarzembowski hopes young adults who participate in World Youth Day UNITE “gain a sense of unity and solidarity with those across cultural families, across diocesan borders and in our universal church.”
“I hope that young adults feel a sense of excitement and joy about being Catholic and share that with others,” she said.
Advance registration is $25. Admission at the door is $35. For more information or to register, click here.
Email George Matysek at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org.