The Dicastery for Laity, the Family, and Life recently issued a communiqué listing the themes for the next three World Youth Days (WYD) culminate with the international celebration of the event to be held in Panama in 2019.” World Youth Day is celebrated at the diocesan level each year on Palm Sunday, with an international gathering every two to three years. The most recent international Day was celebrated in August, 2016, in Krakow, Poland.
The Vatican communiqué revealed that the themes for 2017 and 2018 diocesan-level events as well as the international gathering in 2019 will all be taken from Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Luke, centering on Mary in the scene of the Annunciation and her Magnificat, spoken after her cousin Elizabeth’s declaration, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
The theme for the 2017 gathering will be: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name,” taken from Luke 1:49, while the theme for the 2018 encounter is: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God,” which Gabriel the Archangel spoke to Mary in Luke 1:30. The three-year journey will culminate with the global encounter to be held in Panama in 2019, which will reflect on the theme “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” spoken by Mary after the Annunciation in Luke 1:30.
World Youth Day (WYD) is a gathering of youths from all over the world to meet with the Pope in order to build and strengthen the bonds of faith, friendship and hope, symbolizing the union between people of different cultures and countries. The new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, noted that the spiritual path laid out by the Pope for the next three years “continues the reflection that started with the last three WYDs (2014-2016),” which were focused on the beatitudes. “As we know, Mary is the one that all generations call blessed,” it read, noting that in his prepared speech to WYD volunteers in Krakow, Francis pointed to Mary’s disposition, describing her “as a role model to be imitated.”