Live Blog WYD 2016

Looking ahead!

With all our pilgrims safely home (except those who have extended their European visit!), we have wrapped up a lot of pilgrim reflections and videos. Thanks to all those who have been part of the journey either in Poland or at home. We hope that these "good news" stories full of hope, faith, friendship and love rekindle the faith in many and burn more brightly in others. On behalf of the Melbourne Archdiocese, thanks all those involved in World Youth Day and those at home for their support. We hope to continue to see all of you inspired and at some of our events in the near future.
Panama 2019 will be another adventure full of challenges and joys. Details are obviously not planned just yet but in about 12-18 months, more details will become available. In the meantime, we have the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney, December 2017 to look forward as we gather around 10,000 young Australian Catholics aged 15-25 in Sydney for three amazing days. This will kick off our 2018 Australian Year of Youth - a time to celebrate the young church.
So looking ahead, here is a little teaser clip from Panama and one a little closer to home, looking at the Year of Youth....

Headed home

Our pilgrims are all bound for Melbourne on an assortment of flights. Below is a pilgrim reflection written by a pilgrim instead of as a video. Also as a bit of a wrap up, here is all the papal addresses from World Youth Day in one easy PDF for you...

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Departing Wisla...

Latest pilgrim images as our first plane load of pilgrims begin leaving Warsaw!

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Arrival in Wisla

The pilgrims have arrived in the Polish ski resort town, Wisla for some relaxation and reflection. There is no snow because it's Summer but the view is beautiful! Some images from the last day in Krakow too.

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Long walk home...

Our pilgrims returned safe and sound (though a little weary) from the final Mass, now they will head to a relaxing and reflective retreat for a couple of days to process their experiences at Krakow. Some pilgrim images below, videos to come!

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Update from Bishop Mark

Saturday, our young pilgrims walked from AGH Uni where we are staying in student accommodation in Krakow to the field 15 kms away where the Pope will celebrate Mass with us on Sunday. This field, called Campus Misericordiae, has been prepared for the occasion. We hiked carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, since we’ll spend the night in the field. Along the way, hundreds of Polish people came out from their homes to give us fresh water and, in some cases, even to hose us down to help us keep cool on this 30 degree day. One of us had mild heat stroke and was revived in a first aid tent.

Walking to Campus Misericordiae on of our groups of pilgrims was stopped by the police and then the Pope went past three metres away. He looked at us and waved. Three young people gave testimonies from their lives of their need for God and then the Pope spoke really powerfully. He called on us not to be couch potatoes but to change the world. Fear and her twin sister paralysis are not for us; we are to be missionaries of hope. 'Fight for your future. Don't let others decide it for you. Be ready to respond to the dreams that God has for you,' he said.
We are to build bridges, not walls.  "The first bridge? Reaching out and taking hold of the hand of the person by your side. All of you, join hands & give them a squeeze." And 1.5 million of us were linked - Russian and Ukranian, Middle Easterner and European, American and Mexican, Australians with all the world. The sense of world unity was overwhelming.
We then knelt on the ground as the Pope led us in adoration of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament while the Divine Mercy chaplet was sung. During the night, after the pope left the field, chapels for adoration were opened and stayed open all night and priests available for confession in many designated areas. We prayed when we could and slept (or at least lay on the ground) when we couldn't.
One of our pilgrims is making his first Reconciliation tonight at the Vigil and first Communion tomorrow at the Pope's Mass. He is a baptised Catholic but had no desire to take that further when he came. Experiences on the trip have lead him to want to put Jesus at the centre of his life or at least to take another step in that direction. He has asked if he can be confirmed on the retreat we are making after WYD before coming home and we are excited as this will be a moment of recommitment for us all.
We began our six and a half hour walk with Mass at which Bishop Curtin preached beautifully. In the context of the day's Gospel on the beheading of John the Baptist,  he talked about the senseless death of the priest in France and the holiness found even in the Nazi death camps which are close to Kraków.
He went on: 'Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew deported from Holland and who died at Auschwitz wrote, "If peace is to come one day, it could only be true if each of us first makes peace in ourselves, removes every feeling of hatred for any race or people, or takes charge of such feelings and changes them into something else, perhaps in time even into love. Is this too much to ask?  Indeed it's the only solution." If we are to walk this path, and our walk today to Campus Misericordiae is its physical, symbolic expression, then there are choices to be made,' and talked about the choice to love rather than hate.  (Full text in previous blog)

+ Mark Edwards OMI
Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne

Pilgrim Walk and Vigil

Pilgrims are at the final vigil in Krakow, having a sleep right now before the final Mass with Pope Francis (where the location for the next World Youth Day will be announced...), Some pictures here of pilgrims on their journey, videos to come! To watch the Mass live broadcast, tune in to:
Below is the text from Bishop Terry Curtin's homily pre-walk...
Our gospel gives us a sorry little story about Herod, John the Baptist and a dancing girl. That John who was called to announce the coming of the Messiah should meet his earthly end like this! And in such a brutal way. But beheadings as we know only too well in these days are not things of the past, and our hearts cringe each time we hear of another killing in this or a similar way.

On 26 July, just five days ago, Fr Jaques Hamel, an 84 year old priest was killed in Saint Etienne du Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France while celebrating morning Mass. Two young men, aged 17 and 19, inspired by the so-called Islamic State's terrorism, had entered the church and took five people hostage, seriously wounding one and taking Fr Jaques' life. They cut his throat.  He was a gentle, humble man, much loved by the locals, who has been quoted as saying that priests never retire, (note that boys!), who sought to do what he could even in his mid-80s.

Some of us have been to Auschwitz and Birkenau, where over a million people were put to death - but where under God's grace saints were made!  Dom Christian de Cherge, prior of the Cistercian monastery of Tibhirine in the Altas Mountains of Algeria drew upon that grace when ten years ago Islamic violence came ever closer to them, a violence that eventually led to his death and that of six of his fellow monks by beheading.  In his spiritual diary he wrote that he found himself turning more and more to these words of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew deported from Holland and who died at Auschwitz.

She wrote, "If peace is to come one day, it could only be true if each of us first makes peace in ourselves, removes every feeling of hatred for any race or people, or takes charge of such feelings and changes them into something else, perhaps in time even into love. Is this too much to ask?  Indeed it's the only solution."

If we are to walk this path, and our walk today to Campus Misericordiae is its physical, symbolic expression, then there are choices to be made.  As I go about my day I could do everything any other decent person would do, but with a Christ-centred motive. I could be polite to my impolite neighbour not because he or she deserved politeness, but because politeness is my policy. I could bring my sick friend the help they need, not to get good spiritual marks, but because he or she is my friend and I love them.  I could say "yes" joyfully because that would allow me to take part in the flow of the world's give and take. I could say yes because yes, whenever possible, is my stance. I could contribute my praise, my prayer, my silence, my stories to the world, knowing that to contribute with love always bears fruit.

St Augustine in his writings uses the phrase, "I happened upon myself." In the course of the journey we happen upon ourselves. Our pilgrimage in these days is part of that discovery.

In my reading I came across this prayer, which you might like to make your own, especially as you camp out under the stars (we hope!) tonight:
"Lord, help me to lie fallow every so often and reassess what or whom I'm working for, living for.
Help me to enjoy the quiet morning and the still-point of the evening; the light of the moon and incessant, slow but steady movement of the universe that fills me with love.

Help me to accept myself the way I am, not giving up the idea of healing and growth, but giving up the idea that I am ever going to reach some future point where I can rest. I can rest here." 

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The Way of the Cross and more...

Today's update - more photos (videos to come, please be patient as we sort them out!)... Groups traveled to the Divine Mercy Shrine and the relics of JPII. They also experienced the Way of the Cross and tomorrow they will head off on their 15km trek to the site for the final WYD Mass with Pope Francis!

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More great pilgrim images

Lots of great pilgrim images came through overnight! Stay tuned for more!

A little pilgrim tale:

Spraining your ankle playing footy isn't the best way to start World Youth Day, you feel like its over, you won't be able to experience it to its fullest, but my sprained ankle shown me mercy in the most incredible and surprising way. After being on crutches for the second day, I was quite fatigued and it didn't help that the taxi driver couldn't drive any closer to blonia Park, as the weather was turning for the worse, I started hobbling the 2 or so kilometres it was until the park for opening mass. As I was quite sore, my pace was slow, which is when I hear someone offer to carry me, but at first I was too prideful to accept, but he insisted so I couldn't say no. The man who piggy-backed me the distance was James, a pilgrim from Melbourne traveling with the Maitland diocese, and his act of kindness was an incredible display of the mercy of God through others and the willingness of other pilgrims to lend a helping hand, so I can truly say that my sprained ankle was a blessing in disguise

- Josh Alegre, Krakow Connect, Sandhurst Diocese


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The Pope has arrived!

Pope Francis has arrived! Some thoughts from Bishop Mark and a range of pilgrim images from the last couple of days!

The Pope arrived in Kraków today and the world stopped! Bishop Pat O'Regan and I were (attempting to) returning home when our path was blocked by barricades line 2 and 3 deep with people waiting to see and glimpse the Pope. Police lined the road watching the crowd, helicopters flew above, occasional police cars (and platoons of them) raced down the road with lights and sirens screaming - all false starts for us. Then the motorcade arrived; there were maybe 5 vehicles with security men, an honour guard of a phalanx of motorcycles AND THE POPEMOBILE. The crowd waved and shouted and cheered and the he was gone - but we had seen him.

A number of our pilgrims arrived back at our base excited at having seen the Pope. All pilgrims are back in the city tonight torn between wanting to see the Pope on the balcony at 9.30 and going to the concert with Genevieve Bryant and Fr Rob Galea. The small groups seem to have broken fairly evenly between these events.

Tomorrow, we have the WYD welcoming ceremony for the Pope at a park about 1km form our base. The weather prediction is for rain (100%) and I think there would be open rebellion if we even thought of suggesting they stay home and dry!

The Pilgrims are wonderful. They are open, cooperative, flexible, resilient and looking for personal faith experiences. All are well.

Today we had our first catechesis session. Cardinal Tim Dolan from NY was the teacher. After some warm up songs, a testimony and some community building he spoke for 40 minutes on not putting off the calls from God. He was clear, personable, funny and had a good message. 500 pilgrims sitting on the floor never moved. We finished with a Q&A session and Mass.

+ Bishop Mark Edwards OMI

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