Cardinal hopes January dates for WYD in Panama won't keep students away

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With the next global celebration of
World Youth Day scheduled for Jan. 22-27, 2019, Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell knows
many young Catholics in North America and Europe may find it a challenge to

“It is a period of intense academic activity” for
students in high school and university, but the Panama gathering will not be
the first held in January, he noted. World Youth Day 1995 in Manila, Philippines, was held in
January and “it has remained in history as the one with the largest number
of participants.”

The choice of January for Panama, he said, was motivated by
the weather, “seeing that January is the month with the least rain.”

Cardinal Farrell, former bishop of Dallas, is prefect of the Vatican Dicastery
for Laity, Family and Life and will assist the bishops of Panama in planning
the event.

In an interview Jan. 25 with L’Osservatore Romano, the
Vatican newspaper, Cardinal Farrell noted that the 2019 celebration of World
Youth Day will be the first with an explicitly Marian theme — Mary’s words to
the Angel Gabriel: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according
to your word.”

In preparation for the international gathering, Pope Francis
chose other Marian themes: For 2017 it is “The Mighty One has done great
things for me, and holy is his name.” And for 2018, the theme is: “Do
not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

Cardinal Farrell said the Marian themes “underline the
presence of the mother of God in the life of young people and, especially, in
the faith and devotion of the peoples of Central America.”

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