Rio 2013 will be like no other World Youth Day. Why?

First, the main events including the Opening on Tuesday night, the Papal Welcome on Thursday, and the Stations of the Cross on Friday will all be done along the beautiful Copacabana beach. It Is hard to believe that all of the WYD pilgrims will fit on it until you see it from the 37th floor of the Windsor Atlantica. The locals say that every New Year’s eve there are 1 million people plus who come to that very beach to bring in the New Year.  So the good news is we know that they can handle crowds and major events.

Second, the transportation system will be very different. I honestly don’t think I have ever seen so many buses; private buses, city buses, tour buses, and other buses.  I still can’t figure out their purpose. And, the cars and taxis can give New York City a run for their money. Not to mention these taxi vans that run along the beach and barely stop when they are picking up locals. However, we got good advice yesterday to stay away from that form of transportation. The metro is limited in where it runs, so it is clear that while some may use it, everyone participating in WYD will be “busing” it in some way.

Third, there is Portuguese.  I think the distinct language will be a challenge for pilgrims. Let me own that statement. It has and will be a challenge for me. Out of all the places WYD has been recently, Madrid, Sydney, and Cologne, you could easily find people that spoke either one of our primary languages, English or Spanish. I think the language barrier will be more of a factor. So far, it seems the locals don’t speak much English. Those who speak Spanish though will have an advantage. I am still trying to learn how to say “thank you” which is obrigado. I get a polite smile each time I say it, which I think is code for, “good try lady.”

Here are a few other Portuguese words I have learned:

  • Conto por favor, which means check please
  • Oi, which is a hi
  • Carioca, which refers to residents of Rio
  • Sanitarios, which refers to restrooms
  • De Nada, which means you are welcome
  • Dois Choppe, which means two draft beers, please (not something the pilgrims need to know but just in case you have one of those long WYD days, you can be prepared)
  • Cristo Rendentor, refers to the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking all of Rio, which by the way was incredible and a must see for every pilgrim coming to Rio!

Another distinct thing about this WYD is instead of doing days in the dioceses like in previous years, the week before the WYD events in Rio, young people from throughout the world, an opportunity to evangelize and be evangelized as part of a mission week taking place in dioceses throughout Brazil. While seeing the Holy Father and celebrating our Catholic faith with other young Catholics will surely be part of the highlights of WYD, I believe this week of mission will be the most transformative moments for those WYD pilgrims who participate!

Finally, Brazil is hoping this will be largest World Youth Day or as they say in Brazil, “Jornada Mundial da Junventude or JMJ, ever in the history of JMJ/WYD. It has a chance since it is being hosted in the country with the largest population of Catholics in the world!

My next blog will take a look at what will be the same in Rio WYD/JMJ 2013 and what we (Sr. Eileen and I) have learned about the upcoming WYD to help you and your pilgrims prepare!