by Jacob Shamuyarira

With just under a year to go to the World Youth Day, the Archdiocese of Harare World Youth Day Task Force has stepped up preparations for the big event. At least 1,000 youths are expected to go and represent Zimbabwe and meet the Pope in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

Last year, 217 youths from Zimbabwe’s eight Catholic dioceses participated in the event in Madrid, Spain with most of them having expressed interest to be a part of it again.

The World Youth Day is a youth-oriented Catholic Church event initiated by Blessed John Paul II
in 1985. While the event itself celebrates the Catholic faith, the invitation to attend extends to all
youths, regardless of religious convictions. Every two years Catholic youths from all over the world
converge for a fortnight of cultural exchanges, lessons on their faith and meeting cardinals and
the Pope.

According to the World Youth Day Task Force Chairman, John Muganiwah, there is need for us to step up on our mobilization and for people to firm up their decision whether to participate in the event or not. “The Brazil office opens up registration soon and we need to register early so we get good seats and facilities. Last year, we were quite far from the proceedings as we registered a bit late and we hope to avoid this situation.”

Issues of travel logistics were also pointed out since the team is currently in talks with leading airlines to get the best fares for the pilgrims. “We need to have a close to accurate figure for us to negotiate successfully with airlines. We hope to have those in the next three months so we can conclude on the issue of flights” explained Muganiwah.

Following their strategic plan, the task force developed a series of spiritual and cultural events and
activities leading up to the 2013 WYD. In addition to logistical concerns such as registration, accommodation and travel, the team wants to retain the spirit of the event. In its nature, WYD is entirely spiritual hence the need to ensure that the pilgrims are adequately prepared to receive the graces and blessings.

Retreats, youth masses, talks and seminars have been lined up on the spiritual front. Culturally, Portuguese lessons for the Zimbabwean pilgrims, concerts and cultural festivals are on the cards with more information to be provided in due course.

This month, the WYD task force plan to visit all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Harare and meet the youths and their parents. A database of all the youths in the Archdiocese is being developed for email and sms updates meaning all fresh information on the pilgrimage and any youth event will simply be broadcast via modern electronic communication means. With a parish in almost all the neighbourhoods in Harare it is going to be a lot of work, but the WYD task force seems to have enough energy and the spirit to visit them all.

Muganiwah encouraged the youths interested in the pilgrimage to Brazil to take advantage of the pilgrimage fund saving platform developed by TN Asset Management in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Harare.