Nearly 80 pilgrims from churches and schools across the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will be among the 2 million faithful from all corners of the globe expected to be on hand for World Youth Day (WYD) 2013, scheduled July 23-28 in Rio de Janeiro.Many of the local youth and young adults preparing for the upcoming journey attended the 10 a.m. Mass on July 7 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles to receive a special blessing and message from Cathedral pastor Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik about WYD, which will be the first such celebration led by Pope Francis. Sharing the pope’s advice to WYD pilgrims, Msgr. Kostelnik said in his homily: “Prepare yourselves well, especially spiritually, in your communities, so that the encounter may be a sign of faith for the entire world. The youth must announce to the world: it is good to follow Jesus. The youth must announce to the world: it is good to go with Jesus.”At the close of Mass, the pilgrims gathered at the foot of the sanctuary to receive their blessing.“My brothers and sisters, as you set out, remind yourselves of the reasons you’re going on this holy pilgrimage,” urged Msgr. Kostelnik. “Go to be strengthened in the Christian way of life, and become more determined to devote yourselves to works of charity.“God, remain with your servants on this pilgrimage. Guide their way…shelter them with your protection by day, and give them the light of your grace by night,” he continued. “Grow in faith in Rio de Janeiro, and bring your witness of faith home to the City of the Angels.”Josue Villagomez, young adult ministry leader at Our Lady of Victory Church in Compton and WYD coordinator for the parish, did exactly that after attending WYD 2011 in Spain. Upon his return Villagomez launched a much-needed young adult ministry group at Our Lady of Victory, and went on to share his WYD experience with fellow group members.“It was just an amazing experience going to Madrid,” he recalled. “Being with people from all over the world, you see how the church is just so universal and so diverse. I just wanted to bring that experience back home to Compton.”Fellow parishioner and first-time WYD pilgrim Liliana Duran hopes to recreate that experience for herself, and looks forward to “seeing people from so many countries and cultures — with whom we share the same faith — all come together for one same purpose.”“If there are so many of us, it must be because we are doing something right,” she said. “My expectation is to see the passion that we all have for our faith and feel the love of God.”At press time, youth, young adults, and chaperones from eight archdiocesan churches and/or schools — as well as several members of the local Jesuit community — were slated to make the journey to Rio. The parishes include: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Downey (18 pilgrims); Our Lady of Victory, Compton, and St. Philip Neri, Lynwood (eight combined); St. Clare, Santa Clarita (nine); St. Dorothy, Glendora (13); St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Los Angeles (eight); and Visitation, Westchester (four), plus 17 sponsored by the Congregation of St. Joseph from Paraclete High School and Blessed Junípero Serra Church in Lancaster. More than half of the pilgrims participated in the blessing ceremony at the Cathedral.Julie Bosdachin, liturgy director at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and WYD coordinator, will be leading her third WYD group in Brazil. She described the preparation process as both exciting and bonding for the young people readying for the journey.“Over the last couple of years they have been preparing for this special week with the pope in Rio,” she said. “They have been excited, they have been praying, they have been fundraising — they have become a family. They are so anxious to spread that love to the people in Rio.”Jessa Mine De O Campos, who will be among the 18 OLPH pilgrims making the trip to Brazil, said she hopes to relive her previous positive experiences from WYD 2011 in Madrid.“It’s an amazing experience, because you see everybody around you chanting a song or praying, and just being loud and proud of their faith, and it’s so encouraging and motivating, and you fall more and more in love with your religion,” she said. “What I’m looking forward to in Rio is reliving that moment, those emotions, feeling that belief and that power.”Alexander Bosdachin, who also attended WYD in 2011, is excited about “being surrounded by 2 million other young people that have the same love for and faith in Catholicism.”“It’s really nice to see everybody praying in their own languages and cultures, to see how they share the same Catholic faith in different parts of the world,” he said.Pope John Paul II initiated World Youth Day (WYD) in 1985 as a special gathering for young Catholics around the world. WYD is observed annually at the diocesan level, and is celebrated at the international level every two or three years at different locations.WYD 2013 in Brazil — themed “Go and make disciples of all nations” — will present opening ceremonies, catechetical sessions with participating bishops, Stations of the Cross, a walking pilgrimage, afternoon/evening shows, music and prayer.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0712/wyd/{/gallery}