Our journey in Poland started with a visit of Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camp. As we entered the grounds, our team of eleven pilgrims was somber and emotional during our walk.
The magnitude of the acts of atrocities done by human beings to others was so palpable still in the air, you could feel all of the injustice and violence.
Though we were able to journey deep into the camps, our group prayed before the start so we could understand that this place was more than just a killing field for the Nazi regime. This was a place were great HOPE was, every day for everyone who lived and survived and even for those who lost their lives. The stories we read from those who survived are so much more than just having faith but living their faith to the max. This HOPE, their HOPE was what got them through the horrifying tortures and starvation.
With this as our tool, to believe as they believed, we were able to journey through both camps without feeling totally despaired by the violence we witnessed. As for myself, this was one of the most important places I have ever had the privilege of visiting. Just knowing and honouring those who lived and died in those walls for their faith and beliefs, I will never forget.
My World Youth Day experience had begun in a somber mode but just as quick turned to joy, to share with so many youth celebrating their faith and love of God how could it not. Our FAMVIN days in Piekary were joyous and filled with excitement. Meeting other Vincentians from all over the world was mind blowing. To share the works of service from all over the world was eye opening and definitely revitalizing to the spirit.
Every day there was more to hear and share, I feel that there will always be those who will care for our poor and that makes me feel fabulous just knowing this fact. Our youth are our present and the future, humanity will be taken care of as long as there are those who feel the same as I in this ministry of compassion and service.
After 4 days at Piekary we joined the rest of the world in Krakow for World Youth Day events. We journeyed to many places to share in faith. Catechesis was done for the English speaking nations at an arena, quite lovely since it was air conditioned! There we heard incredible testimonial statements and celebrated Mass every day. We had the best day on Wednesday of WYD events from start to finish, Catechesis, Mass and a Praise and Worship concert, best day of our team’s spiritual life. I believed each of us had cried just from pure joy and spiritual enrichment that day. There were 18,000 of us under the same roof giving thanks, praise and love to God and each other how could we not be moved to tears!
Temperatures were very hot and on our Pilgrimage to the Papal Mass were extreme. Over 3,000,000 young people walked between 5-20 KM, our journey was around 14 KM. one way. To see so many young people in their faith was reassuring needless to say. There are those who believe the Church is dying but after this experience in Poland, I would say “they” are wrong, our Church is alive and thriving! God Bless the young people of the World!