"The day will also honor St. John Paul II, who instituted World Youth Day, which is a huge, festive – and profoundly spiritual – gathering of young people from all over the world, held every two or three years," said Patrick E. Kelly, executive director of the shrine. "We hope this gathering carries on the prayerful joy that was on display at prior WYD events, including the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in August."
WYD Unite coincides with the feast day of Pope St. John Paul II and will include the dedication of a new statue of the saint. It is open to the public and will welcome alumni of past World Youth Days, which have been held since the inaugural 1984 WYD in Rome.
In addition to Father Dwyer, who worked for a time on Comedy Central, speakers will include Christina Shabo, an Iraqi Christian who will share her powerful story of forgiveness of ISIS as she did at WYD in Krakow; Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault; and Eric Mahl, a former NFL linebacker who now serves the poor on America's streets.
At 4:30 p.m. the shrine will unveil the new centerpiece of its front plaza, an 11-foot-tall statue of Pope St. John Paul II. The sculptor, Chas Fagan, was also commissioned by the Knights of Columbus earlier this year to paint the portrait of Mother Teresa of Calcutta that became her official canonization image.
An open-air Mass to mark John Paul II's feast day will be celebrated at 5 p.m. on the shrine's front lawn by Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The day will also include popular D.C.-based food trucks, a vocations fair and exposition of relics of St. John Paul II, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun whose visions of Jesus resulted in the famous image of Divine Mercy.
The Face of Mercy, a new documentary from the Knights of Columbus that explores moving stories of forgiveness and reconciliation, narrated by actor Jim Caviezel, will be shown, as will a trailer for Certainty, a dynamic and emotional documentary about people from four different continents whose lives give witness to man's search for true and deep meaning in life.
More information can be found at: jp2shrine.org/wydunite.
The Saint John Paul II National Shrine, a landmark initiative of the Knights of Columbus, is located at 3900 Harewood Road NE.
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SOURCE Saint John Paul II National Shrine