As an additional means of communicating important information as our pilgrimage nears, I have established a text list for WYD pilgrims.
WYD TEXT LIST SERVICE, REMIND: REMIND is used often by schoolteachers. Forgive the school language (eg “class,” “teacher,” etc). To join the list, Text the message @wyd19 to 81010.
I will use this service to send reminders, important notices, etc. Remind is a free, safe, and simple messaging tool that helps teachers and program leaders share important updates and reminders with students & parents. Subscribe by text, email or using the Remind app. All personal information is kept private. Visit remind.com to learn more.
Advent Blessings and Merry Christmas! As I type this update, the countdown clock at garywyd.com reads “32 Days.” In a little over a month we will board a bus headed to O’Hare to encounter Christ in so many profound ways that are hard to describe! That experience of the Catholic Church you have in your local parish? How amazing it will be to see the SAME faith—celebrated and proclaimed for 2,000 years—on display in so many languages, in so many faces.
Christmas affords us an opportunity to focus on the WYD theme: I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Mary’s loving “YES” and the Most Holy Incarnation transformed the world. By all scholarly accounts, Mary was a pregnant teenage virgin. We all face a world that is not accepting of religion, and it can be difficult to face that animosity, but nothing compared to how ostracized Mary must have felt! Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
This mailing (and posting at garywyd.com) will update you on misc. WYD items as you prepare for the pilgrimage. The truth of the matter is that not a lot has changed since we met in September! That said, WYD tends to wait until the last-minute to release details on things. I will be passing along details you need to know between now and January 23rd via garywyd.com, email, and/or the Remind text group.
A sincere mea culpa for not gathering one last time. We sincerely tried, but simply have not been able to do so. Fortunately there are only 15 of us, so it won’t take long for us to get to know each other!
May God bless you and your families this Christmas season
Diocese of Gary Office for Youth & Young Adults
DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE PDF MAILING THAT WAS SENT 12/21/18
- What’s coming in January
- Airport shuttling
- Google Map/Locations
- Vigil/Mass site established
- Packing list
- World Youth Day Panama 2019 Pilgrim Kit
- WYD Catechetical Themes
- Safety Reminder, Enroll in the STEP Program
- WYD social media sites
- Vicky Hathaway/Via Crucis
- USCCB Social Media Invitation
- Trading at World Youth Day
- Pilgrim advice from Bishop Hying
I am just a few minutes removed from participating in the latest World Youth Day webinar with USCCB WYD staff. I will type below some items covered in the webinar:
- NO MEASLES VACCINATION REQUIRED; NO PROOF OF IMMUNIZATION REQUIRED FOR USA CITIZENS TRAVELING FROM USA. I apologize for any inconvenience (or panic) this might have caused, but I assure you I was simply passing along what I was hearing. Once again, no paperwork or anything will be required, only your passport.
- The more websites you read on Panama, the more you will read about various disease and various levels of vaccinations required. As you have seen, information changes, but as of today, November 15, 2018:
- Nothing will be REQUIRED of you other than your passport.
- Visit this website and make your own determinations regarding your own level of immunization. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/panama
You may read articles that warn you of yellow fever, etc. if you are entering a rain forest or areas outside of Panama City. Please note that while we are visiting a rain forest, it is about the least-remote location you can find: Gamboa, which is just 20 miles north of Panama City and poses very little threat of disease.
Malaria might be a concern, given that we are indeed sleeping outdoors on Saturday, Jan. 26th. Because we are in Panama City, the risk is low. Just as you should do all week, you should ensure that you apply a good level of mosquito repellent.
- In the event of a lost passport, it’s a good idea to take a cellphone pic of your passport to help in the replacement process. We will have digital copies of them as well.
- Between a half million and 1 million are expected during the week. 1.5-2 million are expected for Vigil/Closing Mass.
- A security official warned us about petty theft/pickpockets. Please consider securing valuables in areas that are hard to find for a pickpocket.
- Panama City has Uber. I don’t know how much you might need it, given our proximity to the subway system, but now you know. They do not have Lyft.
- A security official warned us to avoid sharing taxis and Ubers with other parties. Negotiate price in advance, and let your driver know that you do not want to share a ride.
- Weather will be hot. Pilgrims should not be fooled by the calendar- prepare for WYD like it’s July.
- Pilgrims should plan to drink more water and consume more calories due to the physical demands of WYD.
- Pilgrims will receive water bottles in their pilgrim backpacks, and PC will have lots of water filling stations.
- Water is safe to drink in PC.
- Electricity is exactly the same as in USA.
- Have a cellular communications plan. Know your carrier’s options for cellular and data in Panama to avoid a surprise bill later. Some experienced travelers swear by “burner phones” or SIM cards, others simply pay a few bucks for a temporary international plan and use their existing phones. Just make sure that Kevin knows which number you will use if it’s not the cellular phone that we have on file.
- On the pilgrimage itself, we plan to use WhatsApp for communication. It’s a free smartphone app that allows for group messaging, can run on wifi, and what I like about it is it will create an instant photo gallery from our collective shared photos. Closer to the trip I will send more details about how we’ll use it to ensure effective communications. Feel free to get it and start learning it.
Have you contacted your schools and/or places of business about your absence? if it helps, I have crafted a letter requesting “that the participation of WYD participants be forgiven as ‘excused’ to the largest extent possible.” GET THAT AS A PDF HERE. If I can be of any assistance providing any other support, let me know. ~Kev
In World Youth Day as in real estate: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
We received our hotel placement today. Feel free to browse Google Maps and acquaint yourselves with our location! We will stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Panama City – El Carmen. That is in the heart of downtown Panama City. While we have not yet been given a list of WYD restaurants, I cannot imagine we will ever be too far away from dozens of options. Also- and this is the best part- we are steps from the El Carmen Subway Station. That gives us the option to either make a pleasant 1.8 mile waterfront stroll to the festivities at Cinta Costera 1 (Thursday evening Papal greeting, Friday evening Via Crucis, Saturday-Sunday Vigil & Mass*), or hop on the subway train and be there in just two stops. Remember that we get a free subway pass as part of WYD registration.
*The Vigil/Mass location is subject to change based on WYD attendance.
MEASLES DOCUMENTATION UPDATE: MAKE SURE YOU READ UPDATED INFO ABOVE UNDER 11/15 UPDATE
As some of you have begun to track down documents, thank you for your questions and insights. I wish I had more definitive answers to some of your questions, but here’s what I can tell you about some things:
– I have a webinar on this very subject in mid-November and will have more definite answers then.
– You might be asked about “where we are going,” as many sources say the real danger is outside Panama City. The only time we will leave Panama City is to visit a rainforest at Gamboa. That is about 20 miles north of Panama City and poses very little threat of disease.
– As of now, the only thing required is proof of measles vaccination, as we discussed at the mtg.
– Deacon Bob passes this along, after a recent visit to a doctor: “I was told through some medical folks that if we do not have a measles vaccine record we can get an order from our local doctor for an MMR Titers immunity test. If the test comes back that we’re immune to measles we can use that as our documentation. Otherwise we have to have another vaccine.” Thanks Bob!
DIOCESE OF GARY WORLD YOUTH DAY SHIRT DESIGN:
Thank you Jason Yurechko (Nativity of Our Savior, Portage), for this design, which will be on the back of our shirts. We will be contacting you soon: we will be giving you an opportunity to choose short or long sleeve, and cotton or dry-wicking. (Everyone agreed to light blue at the meeting.)
When a group of World Youth Day pilgrims from the Diocese of Gary gathers in Panama City for the Stations of the Cross presentation on Friday, January 25, one of them will have a special vantage point: on stage with Pope Francis.
Vicky Hathaway, a young adult parishioner of St. Edward (Lowell), was invited by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ World Youth Day office to join a small group of young adults from the U.S.A. to be present with the Holy Father during the Stations, a WYD Friday evening tradition established by Saint John Paul II, the founder of World Youth Day.
Hathaway was selected for her “tireless and dedicated service” to young adults in Northwest Indiana, her “engagement on the diocesan and national levels of young adult ministry,” and also for her work with persons with disabilities, “an area close to the heart of Pope Francis,” according to the USCCB invitation email.
PILGRIM INFO MEETING AND MEET & GREET
Thursday, September 27 • 6:00 – 8:30pm
St. Teresa of Avila, Valparaiso
• Emily led everyone in a getting-to-know you activity. If you didn’t attend, we’ll want to get to know you!
• Kevin played an edited-down video of a webinar for pilgrim leaders coordinated recently by the USCCB WYD office. The video is 27 minutes long, and pilgrims who didn’t attend should watch it. The video covers:
– a quick look at Panama
– travel considerations (medical/documentation)
– a general look at the WYD schedule/tips
– food during WYD
– important considerations for the Saturday Vigil/Sunday Mass
– Panama travel
– security and safety
Watch that video here: https://youtu.be/HgUDL583dLw
• Kevin asked that all pilgrims read the handout “WYD Basics,” as it serves as an excellent introduction to the major highlights of WYD week.
• Reviewed other handouts:
MAKE SURE YOU READ UPDATED INFO ABOVE UNDER 11/15 UPDATE
– updated itinerary VERSION 1 VERSION 2
– ‘Other WYD 2019 misc. items, in no particular order’
– First draft of packing list, so that you might get started (will be updated in Dec.)
– ‘About shots’: IMPORTANT- there is conflicting info about this, and even USCCB is unsure. Kevin will continue to update us as info becomes available. MAKE SURE YOU READ UPDATED INFO ABOVE UNDER 11/15 UPDATE
• This World Youth Day is about typical, in that there are very few specifics known or confirmed about WYD activities themselves—including location of Vigil/Mass site—and those aren’t typically known until 1 or 2 months out. The reason for that is that they want to wait as long as possible to assess registration numbers.
WYD is creeping up on us, and because we had to cancel the last gathering, there’s an even greater need to get together! At this gathering, we will:
• Get the latest info about WHAT we will be doing during our visit to Panama, WHERE we will stay, etc., courtesy our travel agency and the USCCB WYD office. Includes time for Q & A
• EAT! Enjoy pizza and try a Panamanian dish!
• Get to know our brother and sister pilgrims
• Start to think about what we need to pack!
• Pray together
RSVP REGRETS ONLY. I assume you are coming if I don’t hear from you! Young Catholics: parents are invited and welcome, please simply send Kev a text letting him know how many people are coming, for food planning purposes.
We will gather in the Antioch Room, on the 2nd floor of the St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center hall. GPS directions can be tricky if you just enter “St. Teresa of Avila.” If you want to arrive at the biggest parking lot, enter 1605 East Lincolnway, Valparaiso (Google Maps) . Enter through north-facing main doors, then use stairs to find Antioch Room.
Be aware that we are meeting during Café Manna, St. T’s weekly community meal. This may make parking a bit challenging. Not impossible, just challenging, so give yourself a little extra time in case you have to walk a little bit.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR BROTHER & SISTER PILGRIMS?
You will after this pilgrim gathering!