New Yorkers Learn More About WYD Lisbon Pilgrimage, Each Other


Many New Yorkers planning to travel to World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 met last week with Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat to receive information about the international gathering led by Pope Francis and scheduled for Aug. 1 to 6 in the Portuguese capital. 

Organizers said Cardinal Dolan will travel with the archdiocesan WYD group, and that he and Bishop Espalliat will serve as the group’s spiritual leaders. The archdiocesan group’s trip will include a pilgrimage to Fatima; the full trip will run from July 30 to Aug. 7.

The Meet and Greet with Bishop Espaillat took place on the evening of Sept. 29 at St. Agnes parish on East 43rd Street in Manhattan. Organized by the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult Outreach, it was a night of prayer with the opportunity for questions about the Lisbon gathering as well as fellowship via a pizza social to meet other possible pilgrims. It is anticipated that most of the estimated 40 young people who attended the get-together will attend the next WYD.

“The pilgrimage is part of our history; it’s part of who we are,” Bishop Espaillat told those who were gathered, citing the Biblical significance of spiritual journeys via long travels. He went on to lead the evening prayers based on Psalms 120-134, noting these are pilgrimage psalms “that talk about a journey, talk about going forth.”

He also cited the guiding words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, noting that the book talks about “places of favorable prayer…Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven, and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. For pilgrims seeking living water, shrines are special places for living the forms of Christian prayer in church.”

Bishop Espaillat told the young adults that WYD pilgrimages are well known for evoking moments of special enlightenment in pilgrims and coordinators, including himself in past WYD gatherings. He said there will be a lot of walking, a lot of “roughing it…It is not a vacation; it is suffering, it is sacrifice,” but he noted that the spiritual rewards will be significant.

Bishop Espaillat, the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua parish in the Bronx, said, “And by the way, I just came back from Rome this week; what an amazing experience. I got to meet the Holy Father, on Monday. It was amazing.”

Colin Nykaza, director of archdiocesan Young Adult Outreach, told those present that WYD events “can be so powerful, so beautiful, life-changing experiences.” He noted that the informational session and others to be held are meant to help them “prepare your hearts, to make a decision if you want to come (on the WYD journey), to be spiritually prepared for this.”

Catherin Corrales, a parishioner of St. Lawrence O’Toole in Brewster, attended. She told Catholic New York that Lisbon would be her second WYD, and that she attended the 2005 one in Cologne, Germany, led by Pope Benedict XVI.

“I am still seeing the fruits of that pilgrimage. I felt God’s grace and the Church fraternity the entire time. It is why I am here tonight,” said Ms. Corrales, adding that she very likely will be part of the archdiocesan pilgrimage journey to WYD Lisbon. The paralegal for a Manhattan law firm said she was grateful for the informational session.

Also present was Ryan Paddilla, a parishioner of Sacred Heart in Suffern, who said he will definitely attend WYD Lisbon. He previously took part in WYD Madrid in 2011, which Pope Benedict XVI also led.

“I want to discern my vocation,” said Padilla, a former Franciscan Friars’ brother, noting that he senses that the Lord wants him to be part of the pilgrimage to WYD Lisbon, and that the journey will help him cope with past personal challenges. He is a materials handler for a medical supplies company. 

Those in attendance were entered into a raffle to win 50 percent off their World Youth Day trip. The winner was Kimberly Baez, a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua in the Bronx. 

Pope Francis, who is expected to lead the international spiritual gathering, was recently quoted as saying, “Whenever a young person falls, in some sense all humanity falls. Yet it is also true that when a young person rises, it is as if the whole world rises as well. Young people, what great potential you have in your hands! What great strength you have in your hearts!”

Lisbon was announced as the next WYD site during the closing Mass of World Youth Day Panama 2019, which Pope Francis also led.

Information and registration for the World Youth Day 2023 Lisbon pilgrimage: The tour brochure is also available to download at the same link. Questions: Pilgrims must be at least 18 years old.