Thousands of Catholic college students and young adults will gather in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 26 for Panama in the Capital, a Catholic festival celebrating World Youth Day 2019. This one-day event will feature speakers, music, fellowship, and prayer in solidarity with Pope Francis and the pilgrims attending World Youth in this year’s host city, Panama City, Panama.

The Archdiocese of Washington has partnered with Washington-area Catholic entities and the regional dioceses to host this stateside celebration of World Youth Day in Washington. Young adults from across the region have been invited to gather for this event.

Panama in the Capital will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. on the campus of The Catholic University of America at 620 Michigan Avenue, N.E., with accompanying events at the adjoining Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and at the nearby Saint John Paul II National Shrine. 

World Youth Day is a biennial international gathering of youth hosted by the Catholic Church for the purpose of celebrating the importance of young people in the faith and encountering Catholic community. Established by Pope John Paul II during his pontificate in 1985, World Youth Day draws millions of pilgrims from all over the world to the host country. In 2016, up to 3 million pilgrims attended World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.

As not everyone is able to travel to Panama to participate in World Youth Day, the day-long event in Washington is meant to give local area young adults the opportunity to join in the celebration. By coming together to pray, attend Mass, and hear talks from bishops and national speakers, local young adults will be able to do just that in a unique way. There will be catechesis (religious instruction) available for those who are Deaf and for persons with intellectual disabilities. There will also be a live-stream of Pope Francis’ activities in Panama showing throughout the day.

To provide a taste of the cultural experience occurring abroad, the festival will include Panamanian dance, music, and food. The Vigil Mass will take place at 3 p.m., followed by dinner, live music, and talks. At 7:30 p.m., there will be candlelight Stations of the Cross in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception’s Crypt Church followed by a coffeehouse and “tipico” dance by Grufolpawa, a local Panamanian dance group. Then from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., there will be a live musical performance by The Hunts.

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