Written by Ian Meaden and the St. Joseph's Basilica World Youth Day Group.
Well another World Youth Day has come and gone. I find for each one I have been to that my experience was always different and there is always something new that I have taken away. Now, I could write a full length blog that highlighted all of my experiences, but I wanted to do something different through with this entry. I asked my group (St. Joseph's Basilica, Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton) to provide their experiences, because what better way to get a sense of the impact of World Youth Day than from those who participated, especially for those whom Krakow was their first experience. This is what they had to say:
- "I came seeking to be reinvigorated in my Priesthood, expecting to find it in listening to the Holy Father or the huge crowds of Catholics or some inspiring events. I found it, but I found it in the simple beauty of how my group from the Basilica affirmed me as a Priest of Jesus Christ." - Fr. Kristopher Schmidt
- "I love the public faith declaration - from old to young. We are all here to celebrate the church and our Lord." - Kathryn
- "It was such an incredible blessing to witness over a thousand young and 'young-at-heart' people kneel in love and adoration as Jesus was brought in a Monstrance to His children. Indescribably beautiful!" - Anna
- "The pain we grow through in our lives doesn't compare to His suffering on the Cross" - Anonymous
- "The candles of the pilgrims outnumber the stars in the sky tonight." - Anonymous
- "If at any moment during the walk to our site or enduring the heat while standing in the crowds, I was often reminded of the suffering Jesus went through. Nothing compares to the deed of the Lord - enduring the suffering with other Pilgrims strengthens my faith - God is ever so merciful and even on the hardest times of our lives, He shines light and gives us strength to endure whatever adversity we face. World Youth Day, Krakow has been spiritually fulfilling and overall very enriching."- Anonymous
- "I'll never forget the warmth of our Polish Host Family and the inspirational speakers during 'MercyFest' in the Tauron Arena." - Anonymous
- "We were lining up to see the Pope for hours by the bench, as close as we will ever get to him, and as he was approaching we were super excited and cameras ready and some of us got caught up looking for the 'Popemobile'. The Pope passed right by our faces and some of us missed Him and saw in videos which taught me how some times God is present I'm the smallest intentions and we can show mercy in the smallest of ways." - Selene
- "The love of Christ knows only the bounds of His Father's love for His Son. This boundlessness pours over the edge of the Chalice into the hearts of all those who came to WYD, forever changing each heart.' - Robert
- "I was most struck by how it was possible to witness the tenderness of God, in the care and courtesy of others of the members of the universal Church." - Brie
- "In the moments where you are caught up in the business of World Youth Day where Jesus is always present, I particularly relish those moments of quiet prayer, at 'Mercyfest', or the Saturday night Vigil, or just sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament at a Parish close by. It is in these moments that I gain strength and where I am reminded that Jesus is always with me, and as it says on my wristband 'Jesus, I Trust in You'. - Ian
As I read through these entries and reminisce on the stories (both positive and negative) of our experiences that we shared on our final night together as a group after the Papal Mass (back at our accommodation), I am reminded that World Youth Day is not just about the day-to-day experiences, it is about the people you are with. The group that you are a part of is what truly makes your overall WYD experience. Therefore, I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of this group. They celebrated with me in the joys and happiness, but also picked me up when I was feeling down. Like the sea of candle light that blanketed Campus Misericordiae at the Saturday night vigil, the light within each member of the Basilica group consumed me. I will take that warmth with me into the future as a reminder that God is ever-present in each one of us and in the smallest of gestures. Let us all never forget that Jesus is calling us to open our hearts to Him, so that He can be a part of our every day life.
Photo by Paula Jusza