Pope to welcome 70,000 youths, confirm 44

Vatican City, Apr 24, 2013 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will be receiving over 70,000 young people when he offers the Sacrament of Confirmation to 44 of them this coming weekend.

“We are joyful because we will be receiving so many young people,” said Archbishop Salvatore R. Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

The archbishop made his announcement April 24 at the Vatican press office, as he detailed two upcoming events in Rome for the Year of Faith.

The first is the April 27–28 weekend gathering, which will bring youths who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the past year to Rome for a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter and a Mass in which Pope Francis will confirm 44 young people.

The second Year of Faith event is the Day of the Confraternities and Popular Piety, which will take place May 3–5. A confraternity is an organization of lay people that promotes Christian charity and has been officially approved by the Church.

On Saturday, April 27, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., youths will gather at Saint Peter’s Square with teachers of the faith, who are known as catechists. The catechists will guide them on a pilgrimage that will include Michelangelo’s Pietà, the tomb of Blessed John Paul II and the Tomb of Saint Peter, where they will make the Profession of Faith.

They will gather again the next morning at 10:00 a.m. for a closing Mass with Pope Francis, during which he will confirm 44 young people from five different continents representing the universal Church.

The youngest are 11-year-olds from Romania and Italy and the oldest is a 55-year-old from Cape Verde. Two more could be arriving from Haiti, bringing the total number to 46.

Other countries that will be represented are: the Congo, Nigeria, Madagascar, Lebanon, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Belarus, France, Germany, Ireland and the United States.

“We have not forgotten the presence of a disabled person to represent those who are privileged in the eyes of the Church and deserve their full attention even in the reception of the sacraments,” Archbishop Fisichella said.

“The Pope will also give the youths a small, simple and symbolic present. But I can’t tell you what it is otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore,” the archbishop quipped.

The event will finish on Sunday evening in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall with a “Witness Festival,” which will include music, and testimonies from world figures and those who have been confirmed.

A boy living in China and a girl from the Pacific island of Tonga will speak about their faith.

“We will have Antonio, who comes from the Diocese of Carpi to give a voice and hope to the victims of the earthquake and to those who still suffer situations of profound discomfort,” he added.

Archbishop Fisichella told journalists that a boy from mainland China, Paul, who has lived in Italy for several years as a refugee, and Malia P. Malani of the Island of Tonga will “tell everyone that even in the most remote parts of the world, the Church is alive and present.”

And over 50,000 people have already signed up for the second event in May.

The international gathering will bring confraternities from Italy, Spain, Malta, France, Poland and Ireland that will give their testimony on local traditions.

Confessions will be heard and there will be Eucharistic Adoration from 4:00 p.m. until midnight on May 3 in Roman churches of the confraternities.

On Saturday, May 4 there will be a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Saint Peter at 7:00 a.m., Adoration and confessions from 8:00 a.m. to noon in churches across Rome, catechesis at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and an international Mass in the same basilica at 6:30 p.m.

“On Saturday we will follow the pattern of the pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter divided by language groups, while in the afternoon at four different churches we will have a catechesis with the subsequent celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” Archbishop Fisichella explained.

Catechesis will be in several languages, with Archbishop Arthur Roche delivering the English teaching in the Church of Saint Maria in Traspontina, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera catechizing in Spanish at the Church of Saint Mary of the Garden, and Bishop Jean Lafitte speaking in French at the Church of the Trinita dei Monti.

On Sunday morning, May 5, members of the confraternities in their habits will take part in a procession down the Via della Conciliazione until they reach Saint Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis will then celebrate Mass at 10:00 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, followed by the Regina Caeli prayer.

“A moment of faith will be lived, which is found in the simplicity of the expressions of popular piety and rooted in our people, who without interruption live these signs as a strong reminder of the faith of previous generations and a tradition that deserves to be witnessed with courage and enthusiasm,” Archbishop Fisichella said.

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