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World Youth Day: A Powerful Force for Good

For 1 week in July, young people from around the globe will gather in Brazil to celebrate of one of the world's most powerful forces for good.

During a CRS Global Solidarity week, students from the Cornelia Connelly School, a Catholic high school for girls in Anaheim, California, packed, sorted and labeled donated food and clothing for poor people overseas.

During a CRS Global Solidarity week, students from the Cornelia Connelly School, a Catholic high school for girls in Anaheim, California, packed, sorted and labeled donated food and clothing for poor people in their community. Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

World Youth Day festivities kick off July 23 and run through July 28. The event theme is "Make Disciples of All Nations." And the special guest: Pope Francis.

But can young people really change the world for the better?

A thousand years ago, a young man turned from a life of partying and adventure to one of material poverty and full service to God. At the same time, a young woman also committed to lifelong poverty and service. The lives of Saints Francis and Clare still captivate imaginations today. They embodied the command to make disciples of all nations and did it with youthful vigor and imagination. Their example is a blessing and challenge to all. An Argentinian bishop recently received praise for choosing "Francis" after he was named pope.

At Catholic Relief Services, we see young people perform astounding feats of love, sacrifice and care every day. The following are stories about how our Church cherishes and is nurturing hope for the future by working with and for the world's next generations.

Bangladeshi boy on boatAs millions gather for World Youth Day in Brazil, meet young people from around the world whose lives you have touched through your support of CRS.



A young boy at an interfaith peace service in Davao, on the Philippine island Mindanao. In the Philippines, young people break down barriers to peace.



Students at the University of Notre Dame participate in a peace rally for Sudan.In U.S. colleges, they rally for independence and peace in an emerging nation.



Shareen Awad, 15, addresses a parish group during a Caritas Jordan awareness lecture on HIV and AIDS.In Jordan, they teach others about HIV.



Dabaso Primary School Headmistress Esther Kutto, center, is working to reverse the trends of teen pregnancy and early marriage among students in her Kenyan community.In Kenya, they strive to remain in school despite pressures to marry early.



Girls in India check on the vegetables they tend at CRS partner Prerana's home for girls in need of protection.In India, they regain their lives and humanity after experiencing the degradation of human trafficking.



High school juniors Samantha Mielke and Amanda Simms participated in the CRS Global Solidarity Week at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel SchoolIn high school, they learn to live in solidarity with poor people.



Young people are a powerful force for good. We need them to be.

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