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Help our young adults attend World Youth Day 2013


In 1985 Blessed John Paul II designated Palm Sunday as World Youth Day. While each year World Youth Day is celebrated in local dioceses, an international event is held every two to three years . This July a delegation of 23 young adults from our diocese, led by Bishop Bernard Hebda, will journey to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to be with Pope Francis and millions of young Catholics from around the world for World Youth Day 2013.

The week-long event encourages a segment of our population that often struggles with issues of faith to embrace more deeply that which makes the Catholic faith unique and special. Pilgrims spend their days praying together, engaging in faith-sharing, and expanding their knowledge and understanding through catechetical sessions. The hope is that they will come experience being a part of the Universal Church in a new and very concrete way. In the past, World Youth Day pilgrims have often returned to their homes reenergized and reinvigorated by the Holy Spirit. Given the surge of vocations that has traditionally followed the international World Youth Day gatherings, the experience has often been referred to as a “laboratory of vocations”.

During his Homily on Palm Sunday this year, Pope Francis addressed the young people who will be attending the celebration in Brazil in July. Inviting the pilgrims to prepare themselves spiritually so that the “gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world,” the Holy Father encouraged the young adults to “ tell the world: ‘It is good to follow Jesus; it is good to go with Jesus; the message of Jesus is good; it is good to come out of ourselves, from the edges of existence of the world and to bring Jesus to others!’”

In an effort to help young adults from our diocese participate this year, a scholarship fund has been set up in the hope of raising sufficient funds to provide assistance of up to $2,000 (one-half of the total cost) to those in need. At a recent meeting, Bishop Hebda recalled that youth groups in Rome would often make palm crosses to sell on the the streets near the Vatican on Palm Sunday to raise funds. The idea was enthusiastically received and soon Fr. Peter Wigton, who is coordinating the pilgrims from the Diocese of Gaylord, came up with a simpledesign which could be handcrafted by our young adults. Medals blessed by Pope Francis, brought back from Rome by Bishop Hebda ,were added to most of the crosses. In less than two weeks, approximately 2,000 of the crosses were made.

Eighteen parishes allowed the young adults to collect donations for the World Youth Day Scholarship Fund on Palm Sunday. In appreciation for their gift, each person who made a donation received one of the unique palm crosses.

“The response was both overwhelming and humbling,” noted Fr. Wigton. “Most parishes ran out of the crosses; people were really wonderful.”

When the counting was completed, more than $13,000 had been raised through the generosity of parishioners.

However, there still remains additional need. Therefore, beginning in the month of May, anyone who makes a donation of $10 or more to the Diocese of Gaylord’s World Youth Day Scholarship Fund will receive a hand-knotted single decade rosary chaplet made by the pilgrims who will be traveling to World Youth Day and their friends and family members. The chaplet is designed to be carried in a pocket, worn as a bracelet, or otherwise displayed as a reminder to take time to pray throughout each day. Available in five colors, each chaplet features a replica of the Papal Crucifix used by Blessed John Paul II . The crosses on the chaplets were also blessed by Pope Francis and brought back from Rome by Bishop Hebda.

Flyers explaining the fundraiser and displaying the chaplet colors available have been distributed to each parish and Catholic school and may be downloaded from the diocesan website at

For more information regarding the World Youth Day Scholarship Fund, please contact Danielle Parish, Administrator of Stewardship and Development at the diocese at 989.732.5147 or Father Peter Wigton at 989.732.5448. To learn more about World Youth Day, log on to

Please keep the pilgrims in your prayers as they prepare for this spiritual journey.

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