The controversies swirling about the Catholic Church all too easily obscure the hopeful signs we don't hear enough about.
World Youth Day is is a great worldwide encounter with the Pope which is celebrated every three years in a different country. This year it is being celebrated in Madrid from August 16th to 21st, 2011. The event is open to all young people who want to take part in a festive encounter with their contemporaries centered on Jesus Christ. I am heartened to see the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christ are active participants as they try to move past the scandal bequeathed to them by their deceased founder.
WYD organizers announced that a record number - 440,000 youth - signed up for the event. Among them are approximately 25,000 pilgrims from the U.S.
According to the Zenit new agency, the Pope will be hearing the confessions of several young people on Saturday morning, August 20 in the Jardines del Buen Retiro before celebrating a 10 a.m. Mass for seminarians. This is the first time that they’ve scheduled the Pope for the sacrament as part of the official itinerary.
The Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi members started a "Coffee House" in 2000 at the Rome World Youth Day during the Jubilee Year. Since then, it has been held at every World Youth Day, with 15,000 to 20,000 youth participating each time. This year, they have Priests, religious, and consecrated members from 17 different religious orders or movements who will be presenting their testimonies. In addition to 25 Catholic bands performing live music, there will be moments for prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the attached chapel. Priests will be hearing confessions and offering spiritual direction round the clock. As an additional "background" support, cloistered nuns from 23 convents will be praying and offering up their own Eucharistic adoration for participants.
Regnum Christi, the lay movement of the Legionaries of Christ will have 2,600 youth from more than 20 countries participating in the 2011 World Youth Day celebration in Madrid. They will be accompanied by more than 200 Legionaries and a hundred consecrated women and men.
The concluding ceremony will be a Mass on Sunday morning at Cuatro Veintos Air Base. More than 1 million people are expected to attend. 745 bishops, 13,455 priests, and 4,585 seminarians are planning to be there. More than 60 U.S. Bishops will be participating in WYD Madrid.