Youth celebrate faith, fellowship at South Florida WYD festival that mirrored Portugal gathering
August 6, 2023 • Diocese of St. Augustine

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (OSV News) — The response to a weeklong Florida edition of World Youth Day, linking Miami’s Catholic young people to the official WYD celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal, was greater than anyone could have imagined, according to organizer Sister Alexia Zaldivar, a member of the Pierced Hearts who serves as committee chair of Miami’s Pastoral Juvenil Hispana (Hispanic Young Adult Ministry). The delegation of Catholic young people who traveled to Lisbon along with Miami vocations director Father Matthew Gomez were regularly sending video highlights of their experience which the group in Homestead then watched on a large screen TV. “We are able to be a part of the celebration from home. So I will definitely be doing this in the future,” Sister Alexia told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan news outlet. She noted that “the reality is that so many of our youth can’t (travel) but that doesn’t limit us” because social communications allows people today to be “connected more than ever.” A repeat of the domestic festival is likely an ongoing option for 2027 as news broke Aug. 6 in Lisbon that the next edition of the international event will be in the distant city of Seoul, South Korea. The Miami-based Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious community of men and women, joined the Pastoral Juvenil Hispana to sponsor the weeklong WYD festival in the Miami Archdiocese. Staged at parishes throughout the region, WYD Miami culminated in a weekend finale at a sprawling retreat space the Pierced Hearts maintain in Homestead, called the Land of the Pierced Hearts.