Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - The young Catholics of Seoul are already looking forward to World Youth Day, which will take place in the Korean capital in 2027. With this spirit, young Koreans also celebrated the diocesan Youth Day on November 25th and 26th by marching through and illuminating the streets of the city with a candlelight procession "in a celebration of faith, hope and unity," reads a note from the archdiocese. Since 2020, Pope Francis has moved the diocesan celebration of World Youth Day from Palm Sunday to Christ the King Sunday, the end of the liturgical year, and this change, it is said, "has given a unique resonance to the meeting in Seoul," which in this way is spiritually engaging connected to a network of all dioceses in the world. On this occasion, the Korean Archdiocese of Seoul officially announced that it will be the host city for World Youth Day (WYD) in 2027: the city has offered its great willingness, both in the area of the Catholic community and in the area of social and civil fabric, "to organize the youth event", which will be prepared over the next four years with a spiritual, but also technical and organizational approach. The Youth Department of the Archdiocese of Seoul organized a Eucharistic celebration for the occasion, which was attended by many young Koreans, presided over by Archbishop Peter Soon-taick Chung, who addressed those present with the following words: "If we view World Youth Day only as a major event or a goal to be achieved, we miss its true essence. Instead, World Youth Day is a time to unite our hearts, minds and strengths and prepare to invite our brothers and sisters, young Catholics around the world, to come together to celebrate the joy of the Gospel across borders, cultures, languages and ethnicities".
Msgr. Chung recalled Pope Francis' message for the 38th World Youth Day: "The theme 'Rejoice in Hope' is a message of encouragement and hope for all young people who often face challenges and difficulties in today's world. Pope Francis says that Christian hope is the 'certain knowledge of God's presence among us,' and it is this hope that gives us the strength to move forward even when we encounter difficulties."
The archdiocese's program for World Youth Day included a prayer vigil, an exhibition on the history of WYD, a concert and several lectures that gave participants a deeper understanding of the history and significance of World Youth Day. Fr. Peter Joo-yul Yang, head of the Preparatory Committee for WYD Seoul 2027, gave an insight into the future plans for WYD 2027. Some young Koreans who participated in World Youth Day in Lisbon last summer shared their experiences in an atmosphere of enthusiasm. The youth gathering was also a moment to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, through confessionals set up outdoors, as happens during WYDs, so that the participants, in an atmosphere of profound spiritual reflection, had the opportunity to look into one's hearts, welcome God's forgiveness, make a choice of conversion. In the evening prayer vigil on November 25th, the young people found moments of silence and meditation and experienced a moment of faith and personal relationship with God. During the evening, the recitation of the Rosary and the procession of lights through the streets of the city also contributed to creating an atmosphere of prayer and reflection, "in a witness of unity and common faith that highlights the deep spiritual meaning of World Youth Day "says the archdiocese's statement. The celebration of World Youth Day at the diocesan level was seen as "a promise of the lively and dynamic commitment that Seoul is ready to offer as the host city of World Youth Day 2027", an anticipation of the major ecclesiastical event to which young people will come from all over the world. A special thought and prayer were addressed to the young people of North Korea whom Archbishop Chung invited to participate in World Youth Day 2027. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 27/11/2023)