WYD goes virtual for stay at home pilgrims

wyd mdrid.JPGMadrid 2012 is now officially just one month away, and although over 400 thousand young people have already signed up to be there, tens of thousands more are still wondering; should I stay or should I go? 

Europeans have it easiest cost wise, no doubt contributing to the high percentage of Italians, French and German who top the list as the most numerous groups. The Churches’ of Africa and Asia will be represented by smaller groups, despite the fact they are home to the some of the most vibrant, fastest growing and youngest communities.

In the past the young people from these continents had to rely on the accounts of their peers who, on returning from the WYD experience, would then travel from parish to parish to ‘spread the Good News’, of all they had seen, witnessed and heard. No longer. Now they will be able to experience it first hand and even take part in a parallel, virtual WYD, being run by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. If Madrid 2012 has proven anything is that this is the digital era and the digital generation of Catholics have harnessed social media, exploiting it to their own advantage. 

Catherine Panzica of the USCCB’s office for social media reveals that the USCCB has created a Facebook application and a website for non-Facebook users (http://www.virtualworldyouthday.org/ ) where individuals can create an avatar and use it to participate in the virtual pilgrimage. 

She says “the application can be added to any Facebook fan page. A Google map provides visuals of where pilgrims are coming from throughout the world and another shows the pilgrims on a detailed map of Madrid. Like you were really there”.

Additionally, USCCB has created a Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Virtual-World-Youth-Day/155...) where virtual pilgrims can go to create their avatar, view live video feed from Madrid, follow key twitter feeds and blogs and upload photos and videos.

Those in Madrid also can contribute to the page from the event. USCCB staff present at the event will post content from Madrid. The page will also feature posts from a team of young adults and young adult leaders who will attend WYD and blog on behalf of the USCCB Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church. 

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