World Youth Day 2023 – August Reflection

WYD_logo_2023_Lisbon Since 2019, when the last WYD took place in Panama City, the youth around the world have not been able to gather until this year – so on August 1, thousands of young people from around the world will arrive at Lisbon, Portugal, to begin a 6 day activity to include: Interfaith Dialogue, Sustainability and Participation and Accessibility.

Pope Benedict XV1 was known to have said that Lisbon is the one country where cultures and religions coexist and that through the art and architecture, including our places of worship, this truth will be revealed in the “relationship with the other, open to God.”

Lisbon lies on one of the world’s safest ports on the Atlantic coast. Consequently, many remarkable, historical places of worship will be part of the interfaith dialogue undertaken during these days. The places open to the youth to pray and explore include:

Mesquita Central de Lisboa – a mosque reflecting mosaic cultures which makes up the community – that has local integration with space not only for prayer but for eating, sports and the general headquarters of the Islamic Community of Lisbon.

The Sinagoga Shaare Tikvah Portöes da Esperança will open its doors to the youth. It is the first synagogue after the expulsion of Jews in the 15th century and the main headquarters of the Israeli community in Lisbon.

The Jesuits were known for their missionary dialogue with people, cultures and religions throughout the Portuguese Padroado. So a visit to Igreja de Sãn Rogue, the Jesuit Headquarters to the Company of Jesus since the 16th century will be paramount.

Much of the celebrations will be held in the Igreja de Santa Maria Major, the main Cathedral of Lisbon. All these places of worship have a history of conquest, conversion and integration so there will be a welcome and a chance to sit and discuss the spiritual needs of the world rather than anything political.

Amidst the fun and excitement there will be time to plant trees, representing all faith families, to promote encounter, to plant seeds for the future – of hope and trust to discuss ways for partnership and how to move forward with hope as Pope Francis puts his total trust in the youth of today.

As the youth pilgrims arrive at the Portuguese Catholic University to register, let us remember them and hold them all in our thoughts as the days unfold and reveal new discoveries and possibilities for so many young people who face a world of uncertainty and political fragility.

God be with our young people gathered in Lisboa 2023

Rose Mary Harbinson RNDM