Twenty-five young people from the Archdiocese of Louisville will be among the more than 400,000 pilgrims expected in Portugal for World Youth Day 2023.
Bryan Cain, a member of St. Rita Church, is coordinating the trip and is among the 25 traveling. He attended the last World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama, in 2019 and he hopes the young people in this delegation will experience what he did.
“I hope they experience a transformative encounter with Jesus Christ and his church, deeper conversion and spiritual fruit,” Cain said.
The international gathering that brings the pope together with the world’s young Catholics — sometimes drawing more than a million people — happens every three years. The Portugal event, set for Aug. 2-6, was scheduled for 2022. Due to the worldwide effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed to 2023.
Cain said the event “brings the universal church into focus” like nothing else he’s experienced. “Being with a million young people from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn countries where Christianity is illegal opens your eyes to the universal experience,” he said.
Traveling more than 6,000 miles to Portugal — a southern European nation — is a costly trip and the delegation has raised funds to cover their expenses, he said. A few parishes allowed group members to speak after Masses and ask for assistance; some sold fudge donated by the Trappist monks from the Abbey of Gethsemani. Mostly, Cain said, the group has relied on the generosity of friends, family and parishioners.
“People are really excited to donate. They know how much fruit it’ll bear not only for the pilgrims but for the community,” he said.