About 500 youths from Zimbabwe’s eight Dioceses have marked the beginning of a long journey to the World Youth Day 2023 celebrations scheduled for Lisbon, Portugal.
Sr Mufaro Chakuinga LCB – Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s World Youth Day celebrations were launched recently in the presence of Bishop Raymond Mupandesekwa of Chinhoyi Diocese, secretary to the Nuncio, Monsignor Felipe Fabiane, Portugal’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Miguel De Calheiros and a representative of the Zimbabwean Minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation.
A gathering of 500 young people
The youth celebrations took place at Harare’s Rockwood Spiritual Centre. About 500 youths from eight Dioceses were turned out for the function. The event was also used to prepare some of the young people who will travel to the WYD 2023 event in Lisbon, Portugal.
World youth day is an international gathering of Catholic youths in the presence of the Pope. It takes place every three years in a different country. Youth from all over the world converge to share the good news of the Gospel and to promote communion, participation and mission. WYD provides an opportunity for young Catholics worldwide to participate in a cultural exchange, an interaction that builds relationships and oneness. The theme of the World Youth Day is, ‘Mary arose and went with haste’ (Lk 1vs 39) which encourages all young people to live the Gospel.
An experience of grace
The World Youth Day started with the celebration of Holy Mass presided over by Bishop Raymond Tapiwa Mupandasekwa.
“My dear young people, today we begin that long journey to Lisbon. We begin it with haste as Mary hurried with joy to the house of Elizabeth. We, too, begin this journey with great joy hurrying to Lisbon. We want to begin this pilgrimage with prayer, and we ask the Lord to help us make this pilgrimage an experience of grace and of encountering him,” Bishop Mupandasekwa said.
The Bishop encouraged the youth to take up the Lisbon experience as a way to renew their hope, faith and love for Jesus Christ.
“If you were to go to Lisbon without the courage of faith, the strength of hope and the fire of love, your journey would not be a pilgrimage but just a visit,” he said.
Look to the future with hope
Bishop Mupandasekwa said that young people, today, face many challenges and tribulations. These include exclusion at different levels of society, unemployment, school dropouts, drug and substance abuse, and that only God could rescue them from this predicament. He called on young people to look to the future with hope and trust in God.
The Ambassador of Portugal to Zimbabwe, Miguel De Calheiros, unveiled the World Youth Day banner.
Government supports WYD
Mr Mudarikwa, attending on behalf of the Minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation, Dr Caste Coventry, appreciated the church’s good work in forming young people. He said the Government of Zimbabwe fully supports the pilgrimage to World Youth Day. Mudarikwa also said the young people travelling to Portugal would do so as the country’s torchbearers, promoting the country’s image.
The Guest of Honor, Miguel De Calheiros, the Ambassador of Portugal to Zimbabwe, unveiled the World Youth Day banner.
“Rise in haste in solidarity and meet others in Lisbon,” Mr Miguel said.