2,000 young people from all over the world will gather in the days leading up to WYD

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Madrid, November 23, 2010.- Málaga is full of excitement caused by the preparations for World Youth Day (WYD). The young Spanish Oblates are preparing to welcome the thousands of pilgrims that will visit them next August in the days leading up to WYD.

The Oblates’ greatest contribution to Madrid11 will be the International Oblate Youth Encounter held in the Diocese of Málaga. It is a gathering of young Oblates from all over the world that will take place in the week previous to WYD (from August 11th-15th), to welcome over 2,000 young people from Spain and other parts of the world such as Australia, Sri Lanka, Canada, or Paraguay. This isn’t the first time that this encounter takes place, it was also done in Sydney and Cologne.

The objectives of these days in Málaga are to prepare the young people for WYD, to hear testimonies that will help them go deeper into the missionary spirit in their lives, and to encourage an intercultural exchange in the Oblate family through an interpersonal encounter, for which catechesis, Masses and meetings are organized. All of this will be done in the different languages of WYD. To be able to reach their goal, the Oblates are counting on eight parishes and a sports center to receive the pilgrims.

Lorena is one of the young people that collaborates with the congregation. She is 21 years old, and tells how excited she is for WYD to arrive. She participated in other World Youth Days in 2005 and 2008, and from her own experience she affirms that she is looking forward to “see so many people that live the faith like you do, that have the same experience as you. To share this is a very impacting feeling.”

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Fr. Ismael García is in charge of coordinating the preparations of this mass encounter. This includes speaking to the local authorities to find places for the youth to stay, asking banks to help to finance the costs, and even contacting food chains to be able to nourish the pilgrims. His work also includes looking for cultural activities that will show the Spanish culture to the young foreigners, or searching for translators to facilitate communication during those days. They are also doing everything that is possible to get help in order to bring in young people from disadvantaged countries, like Bangladesh.

But Fr. Ismael is not alone. Lorena and the rest of the young volunteers are getting together regional choirs and flamenco groups, who with their art will give testimony of the Andalusian patrimony and culture to the foreigners that will come to the International Oblate Youth Encounter. They are also going to the schools of Málaga to make the youth aware of the unforgettable experience that this great Catholic youth event will be.

After the days in Málaga, they will all travel to Madrid to meet up with the thousands of other young people who will be waiting for them in the Spanish capital. There, they will stay in Pozuelo de Alarcón, a city close to Madrid, where the Oblates have a house of formation. During those days they will have a ceremony in commemoration of the martyrs that died in that house, and that will soon be beatified.

For those two weeks the Oblate theme has been adapted from the WYD theme: “With the Oblate martyrs, planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.”

There are over  4,440  Oblates dedicated to preaching the Gospel throughout the whole world and helping wherever they are needed. They were born in 1816 when their founder and patron, St. Eugene of Mazenod began to spread the Christian message throughout Provence in France. Now, their way of life, based on simplicity, seeks to become like the first Christian communities.

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