WYD2016: Thank you Poland!

The World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow has come to an end. In my case it was not the first time to join a WYD. I attended the very first one done outside Rome. It was in Argentina in 1987. That was a long time ago and things were done differently. I then went to Brazil in 2013 but only for the days with Pope Francis. I did not attend the "days in the diocese" done before that. 

This time, instead, I spent here nearly two weeks in Poland and it was worth it. Poland not only had worked hard to make sure it would be a joyful and prayerful time but also offered a warm welcome to all the young (and not so young!) people who came from all over the world. 

"Security" was certainly an issue for everybody. Some might have felt we were crazy by having such a gathering. Attendance increased by the day. It is said there were 600.000 people on Thursday evening, 800.000 on Friday and 1.2 m on Saturday! (We are waiting for the official information regarding Sunday morning though we hear it was around two million) The country put up a well prepared system to guarantee everything would go well. It demanded patience from all of us as we had to go through security checks which did not spare any of the bishops or cardinals. For this reason we had to be at the venue up to four hours before the celebration would start but no one complained as we were all aware of the situation. 

Young people were welcomed in families both in Warsaw (in our case) and Krakow. They enjoyed it. All of them, youth and families. It was interesting to hear some parents say: "This will help our children to see that faith can be joyful"

Our group made sure time would be allocated to thank everyone. It was done both in Warsaw and Krakow. Families were gathered and thanked. Volunteers and priests. One day we even went to sing outside the place where the central committee worked. It has become so intense that they hardly slept. They were available 24/7. It was a great surprise for them to hear us singing outside and thanking them for all the work being done.

In Warsaw we were able to give each family an image of Blessed Joseph Allamano, founder of the Consolata Missionaries. Being here as "Consolata youth", it was natural to do so. 

In Krakow it was quite a challenge because families and parish priest were invited for a short celebration on Sunday evening. Our young people had spent the night "under the stars" of Krakow as they remained after the Vigil with Pope Francis waiting for the final Mass on Sunday morning. On the way back they had to walk 12 km (all the trams were full) and got rain three times. Still, most of them were in Church at 7 pm. After some speeches they were asked to sing "a song". One was probably too little for them. Italy started, Mexico followed immediately after them, Kenya did the same and so on. They wanted to thank every family.

Together with thanking the families and volunteers I also thanked the priests of the parish as a parish of 8000 people had welcomed 2400 pilgrims from Italy and France (together with our international group).

To my surprise, not only we thanked everyone but we were also thanked. The volunteers thanked the bishop with a sheep...!

Below, photos from the WYD2016


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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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