The pope has already chosen the theme of the next World Youth Day in Panama 2019. It is the words of the Virgin Mary, "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
The Vatican has also published the slogans of the conferences to be held locally in Rome in 2017 and 2018.
2017 - "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name."
2018 - "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God."
These are phrases from the Gospel referring to the Virgin Mary, which evoke the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. They also align with the synod which will convene in 2018 on "young people, faith and vocational discernment."
The archbishop of Panama has been in Rome for the past few days to promote the preparations for the event that will bring together hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world.
MSGR. JOSÉ DOMINGO ULLOA
Archbishop of Panama
"Yes, the meeting has already started, and so have the preparations for Panama 2019! Last week we had a meeting with Cardinal Kevin Farrell, representatives from the Church in Panama and their government. We are already making all the preparations, organizing ourselves also within the Church, as a country, and structurally, to welcome all the young people."
The archbishop also met with organizers from the World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Krakow to gather experiences and avoid repeating any mistakes.
The working groups are gradually forming, including the ambassador of Panama to the Vatican, Miroslava Rosas, and Panamanian Cardinal Jose Luis Lacunza.
Ambassador of Panama to the Vatican
"There is a general enthusiasm. Wherever we go, if they know that someone is from Panama, everyone says 'how exciting,' 'that WYD is going there' and that are preparing. It's a real reason for blessing and joy for us as Panamanians."
CARD. JOSÉ LUIS LACUNZA
Bishop of David (Panama)
"Not only in the Vatican! Everywhere people tell me 'we'll see you in Panama.'"
Although the specific dates of the WYD in Panama are not yet known, the preparations are already under way. In fact, in early December, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who heads the dicastery in charge of World Youth Days, will visit Panama to decide on the spot for the encounter.