Thousands, maybe millions of young people of the Catholic and other faith expressions will gather July 21-29 in Rio de Janeiro for the 11th biennial World Youth Day (WYD) festival (www.rio2013.com/en).
Pope John Paul II instituted WYD in 1986 to encourage young people to embrace and spread the message of Christ throughout the world. The first celebration was in Rome, and it has occurred every two years in a different city since then. Pope Benedict has continued the tradition, and WYD 2011 in Madrid drew about 1.5 million participants.
The theme of World Youth Day in 2013 is “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations.” Tour operators for the event are including tours of local cathedrals and churches, outdoor adventure opportunities, and visits to Rio’s cultural icons like the National Museum of Arts.
Daily teaching classes will occur mornings and festival events in the afternoons and evenings. Opening ceremonies on July 23, the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI on the 25th, and the reenactment of Christ’s Passion and Death on the 26th will be the highlights.
Tour operators across the globe are offering WYD-focused tours of varying length. Here are examples:
Regina Tours – World Youth Day Travel is a wholly owned department of Regina Tours, a company which has specialized for decades in Catholic interest pilgrimage travel. Regina is dedicated to delivery of memorable spiritual experiences, along with education about the local culture and traditions.
Faith Journeys – This company (http://www.myfaithjourneys.com) with its global network of offices has helped young adults from the US and Canada participate in WYD, and the company is offering several tours for 2013, including itineraries of 12 to 15 days, with side trips to stunning sites like Iguazu Falls and Rio’s mountaintop statue of Christ.