Around 300 pilgrims from across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are about to embark on a life-changing and unforgettable journey. They will begin that journey on Sunday, July 30 when they travel to Lisbon, Portugal, where World Youth Day will be held from Aug. 1-6. This year’s theme is “Mary Arose and Went with Haste.”

Earlier this month, two short videos were created by the archdiocesan Office for Ministry with Young Adults (OMYA) to generate excitement about the event and offer ways for local Catholics to participate from home.

The first video, a promotional video featuring Archbishop Nelson Pérez and Rickie Jacob, associate director of OMYA features video clips of previous World Youth Day celebrations showing young people from around the world joyfully embracing their Catholic faith and each other.

In the video Archbishop Pérez shares why World Youth Day is special, particularly the opportunity for pilgrims to experience the universal Church with hundreds of thousands of young people who are attending the international event.

The second video, “Four Reasons to Join Us,” highlights how Catholics in the Archdiocese can be a part of the World Youth Day experience without leaving their homes. During the trip the Philadelphia pilgrims will be visiting the Shrine of Fatima, and Jacob said all are invited to “write their intentions and submit them on our website.”

“We’ll be printing those intentions out, and we’ll be praying the rosary and offering up those intentions at Fatima for people back home in Philadelphia,” he added.

>>READ MORE: Here’s How to Send Your Prayer Intentions to World Youth Day 2023

The second way Catholics can participate in World Youth Day is to pray for Archbishop Pérez and the pilgrims during their journey to Portugal. In the video, OMYA director Matt Davis asks viewers to pray that “all the young adults experience the love of the Lord in a new and profound way, and similar to Mary, return to the Archdiocese with haste and share the joy of the Gospel with others.”

The third opportunity for participation is to follow the OMYA’s Facebook and Instagram social media accounts to see all the events and activities the pilgrims will be experiencing during the six-day event.

“While we’re at World Youth Day, we’ll be posting content as we are pilgrimaging through different sites and through different World Youth Day events,” Jacob said. “We’ll be live streaming or posting photos of the different activities we’re doing. It will be like a pilgrimage experience through Instagram and Facebook.”

Catholics are encouraged to follow Archbishop Pérez and the Philadelphia pilgrims on social media to “experience the Church through their eyes and see it happening live,” Jacob added.

Lastly, Catholics are invited to share the WYD videos from the OMYA website with their family and friends.

A highlight of World Youth Day will be the closing Mass that Pope Francis celebrates on Sunday, August 6.

“There will be a night vigil, where we’re all praying together with Pope Francis on Saturday, and then on Sunday he will share a message with the young people and send us out to be missionary disciples,” Jacob said. “That will be an opportunity for all of us to gather in the streets and see many young people alive and excited, cheering Pope Francis and welcoming him and listening to the message he has for the young pilgrims.”

Through a generous grant, some 79 young adults from the Archdiocese will attend World Youth Day at a reduced cost as part of the Young Adult Missionary Discipleship Initiative (YAMDI). This initiative is a four-phased program that began with YAMDI participants attending a series of pre-pilgrimage meetings in the past few months.

“We had different speakers through the Office for the New Evangelization who shared what it means to be a missionary disciple,” Jacob explained. “There were talks on how to grow in their faith, how to really pray, and everyone was able to come together for a Kairos-style retreat where they could really experience God’s love in a deeper way.”

World Youth Day is the second phase, which will be followed by a third phase in which post-pilgrimage meetings will be held, and then the final phase which is the launching of small faith-sharing groups for young adults.

“World Youth Day will be a pivotal experience, and then they’ll be sent forth to be disciples by starting their own faith-sharing groups,” Jacob said.

He added that World Youth Day is an opportunity for Catholics to “really experience the church alive because it’s probably the largest gathering of young people in the church coming together.”

“I encourage people to follow us along the journey, so they’ll be able to see the beauty of the church in a different but exciting way,” Jacobs added.