New Zealand contingent attend World Youth Day in Panama 2019

A contingent of 21 Zealanders will attend the international celebration for 2019 World Youth Day (WYD2019) in Panama.  The event will be attended by thousands from around the world in January next year.

World Youth Day (WYD) takes place each year on Palm Sunday and every few years this takes the form of a major WYD event and is hosted by a different country. Previously, international events have been held in the US, Brazil, the Philippines, and Australia. The theme for the celebration in Panama is "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

WYD2019 is taking place a few months on from the October Synod on ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment’ with bishops and lay participants including young people from around the world in Rome.

The October Synod was preceded by months of preparation, involving young people from many countries and their say on the future direction of the Church.  In 2017, the VoicetoVatican survey for Young New Zealanders received almost 2000 responses. This fed into global findings about young people and their faith from around the globe. A preparatory meeting in March, led by young people, considered the findings and prepared a discussion document for the bishops at this month’s Synod. 

Bishop of Palmerston North, + Charles Drennan, who will be accompanying the New Zealand pilgrimage to Panama, commented “it’s my first World Youth Day. I’m excited by the renewal Pope Francis is bringing to the Church and I’m confident this pilgrimage of faith to Central America will be full of the joy and sense of mission that radiates from so many of our young people.”

The New Zealand contingent will arrive in Panama and initially be hosted by a local Panamanian parish community along with contingents from Ireland and Latvia.  In this local community, the groups will experience Panamanian culture, exchange ideas, participate in faith services, and work together on service projects.  The official WYD events begin on 22 January with Opening Mass. 

Participants will hear sessions hosted by Bishops from throughout the world, there’ll be WYD festival events and Pope Francis will celebrate the Closing Mass with up to one million expected to attend.

With planning for the pilgrimage firmly underway, a website to provide further information and track the pilgrimage can be found at