World Youth Day a Priority for Diocese of Brooklyn’s New Director of Youth and Young Adult Formation

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By Emily Drooby

World Youth Day: where Catholics from around the world deepen their faith together.

It’s a beautiful and vibrant event. The next international one is set to be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2023. In the Diocese of Brooklyn, preparations are underway with the help of a new face.

Father Emil Parafiniuk, the diocese’s new Director of Youth and Young Adult Formation, has worked the World Youth Day pilgrimage for years at different levels.

“In the parish level, after that the diocesan, and after that the national level,” Father Emil said.

He hit the ground running after starting his new role at the beginning of April.

“We are starting our preparation process,” Father Emil said, “and because World Youth Day is not just an event, just a trip, they’re [on a] pilgrimage and they should be very well prepared.”

Right now, he is focusing on preparing spiritually.

“I’m going to invite all parishes to have some type of spiritual preparation on the 23rd of the month,” said Father Emil.

To get involved, churches can, for example, offer a Mass for World Youth Day.

Father Emil said he’s also preparing to hold five in-person events for the local version of World Youth Day — if it is safe. The date for those events moved to November, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Many other steps go into planning an event as big as World Youth Day, like coordinating with youth ministers and working with travel agents. Father Emil is working with Father Gerard Sauer, the diocesan Director of Pilgrimages.

2023 will be Father Gerard’s 10th World Youth Day. That’s 10 pilgrimages where he has helped to change lives.

“…they come back a changed person,” Father Gerard said. “And for a young person to say, ‘you know what I thought I was the only young person in church last week, no, there’s two million, three million other teenagers that are going to church just like I am.’ So, it really unites them in faith as well.”

The last World Youth Day in Panama brought out more than 500 young people from the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Father Emil is hopeful the numbers will also be strong for 2023.

“This time of the pandemic has helped us to understand that we need us together,” Father Emil said, “that we want to meet, that we want to travel together, that we want to pilgrimage together.”