It is not easy to imagine that the World Youth Days, to which young people from around the world were preparing for nearly three years, have already become history. Unbelievable, that such a wonderful event that was going on at the Campus Misericordiae in Krakow, passed so fast! The presence of Pope Francis in Poland did not last long, but it sparked deep feelings in the hearts of all the participants.
A few days ago, the John Paul II fellowship recipients and management of the Foundation’s House went also to Krakow in the pilgrimage to attend the World Youth Days. We began our pilgrimage on Saturday, July 30th. At 8 a.m., a Mass was celebrated at the Foundation’s Chapel after which we started our pilgrimage. Around noon, we ate a delicious dinner and then went to Nowa Huta to pick up our pilgrim’s backpacks. While driving to the parking lot, we were passing by many young people who were going to the place of prayer. Unfortunately, the bus had to stop earlier, approximately 11 km before Campus Misericordiae. Thus, the rest of the way we were walking along other young people from all over the world. At first, we were participating with the Holy Father in the prayer vigil. Then, we stayed there all night to experience the atmosphere of brotherhood and unity and wait for the Holy Mass with Pope Francis. The entire night was filled with all kinds of prayers and concerts. We also could listen to the poignant testimonies of young people from different parts of the world. There was also a time to have fun and meet new friends.
We began our next day with the joint singing of the Hymns to the Virgin Mary. Then, we were waiting for the arrival of the Holy Father Francis. Neither the cold at night, nor the heat during the day or sleepiness was able to destroy our enthusiasm and joy. We felt the presence of St. John Paul II and St. Sister Faustina. Attentively, we listened to the appealing homily of the Holy Father. The Pope, referring to the Gospel story of Zacchaeus, pointed out the essence of our life and our mission. He asked us to fall in love with our lives and not to be the young retired people or the generation of “couch potatoes”, but to put on shoes and set out on the paths of the modern world to give a living testimony of the goodness, kindness and forgiveness. We should be the peacemakers in the world torn apart by wars and conflicts.
For such journey, we received the apostolic blessing; while, we engraved the words of the Holy Father deeply in our hearts. Tired, but very happy and strengthened spiritually, we headed back to Lublin. At first, we walked for three hours back to the parking lot, and then we had five hours by bus in the pouring rain.
We would like to express our gratitude to Rev. Jan and Rev. Franciszek for their spiritual care and organization of our pilgrimage. Our special thanks we would like to direct to Mrs. Ewa Bednarkiewicz the president of the John Paul II Foundation Warsaw Chapter and members for their financial support for this pilgrimage.
By Olga Ilczyna
Photos: A. Goleta & U. Bila