After an early morning flight out of Kos on Monday, we arrived into the Czech Republic to board our coach and begin our final leg towards Krakow. Our first pit-stop for lunch actually gave us a glimpse into what we could expect this coming week, as we encountered literally bus loads of young people from different countries all lining up to be fed from the various food outlets.
We worked out pretty quickly which pilgrims from certain countries thought that queueing up to pay for things was optional, and this was a bit frustrating and tried our patience after the hours of travelling, but despite this there was definitely a special kind of buzz and excitement in the air. We arrived at our accommodation in Krakow after about four hours on the road, and we were so glad to see the familiar faces of the Harvest Journeys team who have been a huge support to us during our time overseas.
Tuesday was the first official day of the WYD week program, and as a group we began the day by attending the Australian Gathering and celebrated with the 3000+ other Aussies who had made the journey to Krakow. This was followed by the Opening Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaus Dziwisz in Blonia Park – the site of most of the major events of the WYD week. In distinct, yet similar ways, the two events really brought home the reality that we were at World Youth Day.
Wednesday morning marked a special journey out to the Saint John Paul II and Divine Mercy Sanctuaries. This day was probably the most challenging this week, given the massive crowds we had to contend with, the hot temperatures and long walks! At night, we joined with over 18,000 other pilgrims for a Night of Mercy which featured contemporary praise and worship, testimonies, and Eucharistic Adoration led by Auxiliary Bishop for Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron. By the end of Wednesday, we were exhausted. But simply loving it at the same time.
“This week has been absolutely amazing. The highlight for me so far was the the LifeTeen Night of Mercy held out at Tuaron Arena. It was so beautiful to see so many Christians unite to celebrate our faith. I felt connected with God and I truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. This week is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I’m very excited for the rest of the week”: – Monica
“The start of this week has been so much more incredible than I could have ever imagined and we’re only three days in. WYD is so much bigger than I’d ever pictured, and I’m still struggling to get over its sheer size and global reach. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world, hearing all of their stories and journeying in our faith together!” – Zack
“World Youth Day week so far has been such a life changing experience. The friendships made, faith filled testimonies and deep celebrations have really touched my heart and made me experience the Holy Spirit and mercy of God in ways I could never have imagined. This week has contributed greatly to my journey of faith and strengthened my understanding of Gods divine and undying mercy.” – Sue