All but one of our groups is back from the final mass. It was extremely hot and tough going but well worth it! Our last group walked most of the way and the tram they needed to finish the journey was suspended. They are safe and stopped off to eat as a huge thunderstorm has blown in. The Pope’s message to young people at the vigil and again today was great! Check it out on EWTN or U tube! He talks about coach potatoes in the evening address:-) The huge announcement after mass was that the next WYD will be in Panama 2019!

As WYD 2016 is closed, our final touring will be to Auschwitz and to the Salt Mines. We will begin the journey home at 1:00 am Tuesday.

We have many more photos to post and will do more stateside. We will also host a sharing evening at the parish, likely in early September.

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Let’s hurry up … and w-a-i-t!

We are at the final mass site at Campus Misericordiae. We arrived in three groups but all walked at least 5 miles In the heat and crowds. All are in good spirits even though the meal packages were only received by half our group. We are all sharing and hear more food trucks will come so we can get our alloted amount.

Please pray for us as we attend the evening vigil with Pope Francis, sleep out under the stars and attend the final mass tomorrow.

For those watching at home we are in section A 12- good seats! You will likely not hear much news for the next 24 hours. We need our phone batteries to help communicate safely on the 8 mile journey back to our housing tomorrow. Pray for Us!

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A full day at WYD!

The pilgrims had another full day at WYD! The speaker today was Cardinal Dolan who always has an inspirational message for the Youth. Another guest speaker told her story as a Catholic Iranian who escaped from persecution but lost her family.

Our pilgrims then split into small groups to finish site seeing in Krakow. Many beautiful churches were visited including Wawel Cathedral, St Mary Basilica, the Church of the Redeemer and more. Some groups made it to Schindler’s museum, a few will go tomorrow prior to walking to the final vigil and closing Mass site.

Pictures were not allowed at Wawal, St Stanislaus’s tomb was beautiful. The evening ended with stations of the cross. The subway and busses were shut down for several hours and many of our groups of pilgrims had to walk a distance back to our housing.

A good but busy day, tomorrow will be an 8 mile walk to the final Mass site.

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Celebrating God’s Mercy – and then welcoming Pope Francis

This morning we visited the Divine Mercy Sanctuary. This evening we welcomed Pope Francis!

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World Youth Day – catechesis, then on to see Krakow

Today we started the day with catechesis. Our English speaking catechesis was held at the Krakow Arena and was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. There were speakers, singing and a closing mass with an arena that seats 20,000 filled to capacity!

Following catechesis today the group split into smaller groups for the day. WYD has so much to offer and Krakow so much to see! The list of things pilgrims did today is awesome.

  • One got City of Saints author, George Wiegl’s signature,
  • some saw St Mary Cathedral, and Rynek Glowny (market square) and
  • one group saw the pope! (that was pure perfect luck, but we are super happy for them. )

Tonight most are at a concert which includes Matt Maher, a Saint Patrick youth favorite. Also featured are Bishop Robert Barron, Audrey Assad and Joel Stepanek. A full evening of worship and adoration.

Tomorrow we formally welcome Pope Francis!

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Czestochowa (or International Soccer Tournament) and WYD

Today was super busy!

The morning saw the group split, those playing in an international soccer tournament while others went to Czestochowa Jasna Gora Monastery to see the Black Madonna. It was so packed with pilgrims that we couldn’t get great pics but an amazing morning!  Although those who played soccer didnt make the finals, a fun time was had by all, and we did come close to beating the Germans!

Tonight Cardinal Dziwisz , the Cardinal of Krakow opened WYD16 Krakow with the Opening Mass! The pictures we are posting cannot even begin to show the crowd, the excitement and most importantly the witness of faith!

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From the Czech Republic, to Slovakia, and onto Hungary!

Today the pilgrims spent several hours on bus traveling through many countries to reach our next destination. We left the Czech Republic, through Slovakia, and went to Hungary.

We had to wait for 30 minutes at the border from Slovakia to Hungary so the youth played frisbee with Father Paul and took a chill!

In Hungary we toured Budapest. Budapest has an interesting history with many stories. Hungary is the only country in this area to not have a Slavic language and so even our guides, Martina and Joshua from the Czech Republic, cannot speak it or really understand it, so we added guides for the day who were amazing and even tried to teach us a few words. The words are very long as there are suffixes at the end!

Highlights of the day included seeing St Matthias which was founded by St Stephen in 1015. It held many coronations including Charles IV, the last Habsburg king. In 1541 when Buda was captured it became the city’s mosque. It is said in 1686 when a siege was happening a wall collapsed because of cannon fire and a Madonna statue was behind it. As the Virgin Mary statue appeared before the praying Muslims, the attackers lost morale and the city fell! It was returned to Catholicism. In World War II and Soviet occupation it was occupied by Germans and Soviets and used as a camp. It was renovated by funding from the Hungarian Government.

Other sites of the day included Heroes Square, the Danube River, and Fisherman’s Bastion. All were in awe of the immense beauty of Budapest!

The pictures of the shoes on the Danube are a memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot between 1944-45. They were told to take off their shoes, as shoes were valuable belongings at the time. They were then shot into the river. The memorial was created in 2005 and contains 60 pairs of iron shoes modeled after 1940’s shoes. This was a very moving memorial to see.

And finally, Budapest by night

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Pilgrims Arrive in Prague

The pilgrims arrived in Prague, Czech Republic today and saw some sites around the town. Today was a day of leisure and smaller groups were able to see sites of interest. Two main points of interest were St Nicholas Church which is a famous Baroque church. It was built in memory of a miracle of St Wenceslas. It holds a piano played by Mozart himself! Another site, the Prague astronomical clock was placed in the town square in 1410! Its one of the three oldest in the world and the oldest one in operation! Many more great sites to visit, but after a long two days of travel, an early dinner and good night of rest are in order!
Our Pre tour will be from now until July 26.  On July 26-July 31 we can’t wait to share how our teens and young adults get to interact throughout World Youth Day! From meeting other Catholic youth from around the world, attending Catchesis, Stations of the Cross and Opening and Closing Mass, to traveling around Krakow hoping for a Pope sighting!
Please note if you are following us that there is a Six hour time difference, so it is currently 12:20 for Wellington but 6:20 p.m. here in Prague for the pilgrims!

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WYD Itinerary

Wondering about the itinerary for the WYD pilgrims?  Here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Friday: 22 July 2016
    • 3 hour layover in Frankfort, Germany airport – and then travelling on to Prague
  • Saturday: 23 July 2016
    • All day in Prague
  • Sunday: 24 July 2016
    • Depart Prague for Budapest
    • Bus tour of Budapest – and an overnight in the city.
  • Monday, 25 July 2016
    • Depart Budapest for Krakow, Poland – visiting sites along the way.
  • Tuesday – Sunday: 26-31 July 2016
    • World Youth Day events and activities
  • Monday, 1 August 2016
    • Visit to Auschwitz and the salt mine in Wieliczka
  • Tuesday, 2 August 2016
    • Return to the USA – departing Krakow Airport, transferring in Frankfort and then returning stateside.