By Devin Watkins
Cardinal-elect Stephen Chow Sau-yan, S.J. has entrusted some 300 young Hong Kongers with a special “missionary mandate” as they prepare to attend World Youth Day.
The international gathering of young people from all parts of the globe kicks off on 1 August in Lisbon, Portugal, with Pope Francis arriving on 2 August, and runs until 6 August.
Young people from Hong Kong have been divided into 14 groups from various parishes, religious congregations, schools, and ecclesial communities.
Each group is led by an appointed young person, who will assist their group during WYD. The 14 group leaders received formation and attended 4 meetings, which included meditations on the Gospel, Eucharistic adoration, and moments of community prayer.
Sharing faith in communion
Cardinal-elect Chow celebrated Mass recently in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to impart the missionary mandate.
In his homily, the Bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong invited young Hong Kongers to attend WYD with an open heart.
“Pope Francis has invited you,” said Cardinal-elect Chow. “He has recommended you to go out of yourselves, to respond to the Lord’s call through mutual encounter and encouragement with young people from all over the world.”
He also urged the young people to share their faith in communion with other young people they will meet in Lisbon.
Pilgrimage across Europe
During the liturgy, the 14 group leaders were invited to the altar to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for her protection and prayed to learn from her quickly and humbly to the Lord’s call to follow Him.
Father Fructuoso López Martin, of the Missionaries of Guadalupe, President of the Diocesan Youth Ministry Commission, will lead the 300 young Hong Kongers, along with several priests who serve as chaplains for various youth communities.
After arriving in Lisbon, the young people will take part in a spiritual retreat and several moments of formation geared toward preparing themselves for the encounter with the Pope and with the other 600,000 people registered for WYD.
As part of their travel itinerary, the young pilgrims will embark on a 100km pilgrimage along the renowned Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago), traversing a section of the trail leading to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
They will also visit various shrines in France and the Diocese of Essen in Germany during their stay in Europe.
World Youth Day 2023 invites young people to receive guidance from the motto “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39).
Every young pilgrim can draw inspiration from Mary’s example in the Visitation, as she became a “missionary” to her cousin Elizabeth immediately after receiving the angel’s message that she would become the Mother of God.