Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Saturday, June 23, 2018

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PORTLAND – You don’t have to make the trip to Krakow, Poland, to get in on World Youth Day. All teens in grades seven through 12 are invited to attend a stateside celebration – the first-ever “World Youth Day CT” – from noon to 5 p.m. July 23 at St. Mary Parish in Portland.

The half-day event is being sponsored by the Diocese of Norwich but is open to teens from the Archdiocese of Hartford, Diocese of Bridgeport and beyond. Parishes are encouraged to organize trips, but teens are welcome to register individually.

“It’s really about a pilgrimage,” said Liza Roach, youth minister of the Diocese of Norwich, who is partnering with Shawnee Baldwin, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Hartford, in planning the event. Both women hope teens from throughout the state will make the trek to St. Mary’s in Portland.

“You get the Eucharist, mercy, great speakers and music,” Ms. Roach said.

Pope Francis has encouraged all dioceses worldwide to plan local World Youth Day events this year for teens who cannot make the trip to Poland, and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport, episcopal liaison  to World Youth Day for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has encouraged the nation’s bishops to plan celebrations.

Bishop Michael R. Cote of the Diocese of Norwich stepped forward, making his diocese an official sponsor of a World Youth Day event in New England.

The theme of World Youth Day CT is “Bridges of Mercy.” The event will include a presentation by Cooper Ray, a nationally known  Catholic speaker and musician from Texas; music by Jerusalem Road, a Connecticut-based praise and worship ministry; an interactive mercy project led by Cross Catholic Outreach; Stations of the Cross; and inspiring quotes from Pope Francis. Bishop Cote will celebrate the closing Mass.

The teens will also be provided with information and links for TV stations, websites and social media to help them participate stateside in the international “World Youth Day: Krakow 2016,” which kicks off just two days later, on July 25, and runs through July 31.

“We’ll give them the media knowledge to participate in World Youth Day while right here in the United States,” Ms. Roach explained.

The final deadline for registration for the Diocese of Norwich is July 8, and the cost is $15. To register for the Norwich Diocese, call Liza Roach at 860-848-2237, ext. 305, or email her at

The final deadline for registration for the Archdiocese of Hartford is July 15, and the cost is $15. To register for the Archdiocese of Hartford, call Shawnee Baldwin at 860-242-5573, ext. 2672, or email her at

Saint John Paul II announced the institution of World Youth Day on Dec. 20, 1985, coinciding with the United Nation’s International Year of Youth. The first World Youth Day was held in Rome in 1986.