Melbourne Catholic - April 2016 - page 17

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| melbournecatholic.org.au
Words
Catherine Sheehan
This year, World Youth Day (WYD) is taking place from
26 to 31 July. Hosted by Krakow, Poland, it promises to be
a truly memorable experience for a number of reasons.
Poland is a country steeped in the Catholic faith. It is the
homeland of St John Paul II the Great, the founder of WYD. It is
also where the devotion to the Divine Mercy originated, thanks to
St Faustina Kowalska—a significant fact given we are currently
celebrating the Holy Year of Mercy, as declared by Pope Francis.
Another reason to travel to Krakow for WYD 2016 is that
Pope Francis will be there! He has already been dubbed ‘the
Pope of mercy’, so this WYD is shaping up to be an enormous
celebration of, and encounter with, the unfathomable mercy of God.
WYD (actually a week, rather than a day) will include catechesis
sessions, daily Mass and opportunities to receive the sacrament
of Reconciliation. There will be several major events where
pilgrims will be addressed by the Holy Father. The highlights
will be the Saturday evening prayer vigil, the pilgrim sleep out
under the stars and the concluding WYD Mass celebrated by
Pope Francis on Sunday 31 July.
As well as being nourished in their Catholic faith, pilgrims will
be able to explore the natural beauty of Poland and learn about
its history. The Victorian Pilgrimage to WYD 2016 offers four
pilgrimage options: Krakow Connect (15 days), Poland Encounter
(20 days), Footsteps of St Paul (20 days) and the John Paul II
Trail (23 days).
Anthony Kelly, 26, is heading to Krakow with the Poland
Encounter pilgrimage. He felt inspired to take part in a WYD
pilgrimage after witnessing the Papal Mass at WYD 2008 in
Sydney. ‘Seeing 400,000 other young people attend the WYD
Mass and being so interested in something which I had always
taken for granted piqued my curiosity,’ says Anthony.
The Poland Encounter pilgrims will be staying with local families
in Krakow, something that was particularly attractive to Anthony.
‘I will get to meet amazing people, discover the Polish culture,
hike in the mountains and celebrate our faith in true Polish style.
I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting parts of the trip!’
Anthony says the excitement among the pilgrims is already
palpable. ‘I am very, very excited,’ he says.
Emily Crossland, 19, will be travelling with the John Paul II
Trail pilgrimage and says she has ‘always been fascinated by
everything that John Paul II did.’
‘I am expecting it to be an overall amazing spiritual adventure!
I can’t wait to go over to Poland and meet new people from
all over the world,’ Emily says. She looks forward to ‘making
memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life’.
As the trip gets closer Emily admits, ‘I’m getting nervous …
but at the same time I can’t wait to challenge myself.’
With WYD 2016 just over three months away, those thinking
about joining the Victorian pilgrimage have only another couple
of weeks to sign up. Emily offers encouragement: ‘It is an
amazing opportunity, so go for it!’
Anthony says, ‘Pray about it.Your pilgrimage will not be easy
but no one ever did anything great by doing something easy.’
Registrations for WYD 2016 close on Saturday 23 April.
To register, go to wyd2016.com.au/register. For more information, go to
wydvictoria.org.au or phone 9287 5574.
Encounter the
awesome mercy
of God in Krakow
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