First Ever Delegation of Holy Cross Students and Staff to Attend World Youth Day in Brazil

July 18th, 2013 by Bridget Cass


A Holy Cross student adds their trip to the map of pilgrims. Image by Society of Jesus

Five students from the College of the Holy Cross left the United States on July 11 to take part in World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Organized by the Catholic Church and hosted by Pope Francis, the event brings together young people from around the world to learn more about their faith. Held this year from July 23-28, WYD is the largest youth event in the world and more than 2 million youths are expected. This is the first time the College has sent a delegation.

Johannes Danusantoso ’16; Monica Polanco ’16; Andrew Valencia ’15, a Spanish major with a minor in philosophy; Yarlennys Villaman ’14, a Spanish major with a concentration in Latin American and Latino studies; and Osvaldo Reza ’15, accompanied by Rev. Gregory Lynch, S.J., assistant chaplain and director of service and social justice programs, and Rev. John Gavin, S.J., assistant professor of religious studies, will represent Holy Cross at the international event. Prior to the start of WYD on July 23, the delegation will partake in Magis—a conglomeration of Jesuit events and experiences for pilgrims from Jesuit institutions—with approximately 1,600 others participants from Jesuit schools across the country. Under the theme “the nations await us,” participants split into groups of 20-30 people, as they embark on pilgrimages around the country learning about and experiencing the culture of Brazil. Learn more about the Magis program on the Society of Jesus website, and view pictures from the trip.

Since its inception in Rome in 1986 by Pope John Paul II, WYD has been celebrated 11 times in cities including Madrid, Spain; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; and Denver, Colo. The program in Rio is the first international event attendance by Pope Francis as pontiff and consists of five main events, including the Papal welcoming celebration; “The Way of the Cross,” a re-enactment of the final hours of Jesus’ life; and a vigil held overnight at  Campus Fidei, or Faith Field. View a complete schedule of events.

In 2008, Paul Melley, assistant chaplain and director of liturgical music at the College, performed compositions from his CD, Humbled, at WYD, which was hosted by Pope Benedict XVI, in Sydney, Australia.

Rio de Janeiro will also be hosting two other international upcoming events: the FIFA World Cup in 2014, the Summer Olympics in 2016.

Related Information:

  • Click here to watch an arrival interview video from The Jesuit Post.
  • Click here to read a pilgrim journal from the group Fr. Gavin, Yarlennys and Johannes are traveling with. Posted by The Jesuit Post.
  • Click here to watch a video journal from the group Fr. Gavin, Yarlennys and Johannes are traveling with.
  • Click here to see Holy Cross pilgrims explain the ‘rules of being a pilgrim’

For additional information, please contact Bridget Cass at 508-793-2419.

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