Pilgrims converge on Poland to celebrate World Youth Day

July 27, 2016


Clifton and Plymouth Diocese with Bishop


REGIONAL GROUP: The young people of the Catholic dioceses of Clifton and Plymouth gather at La Salette following a service there. With them in the centre is Father Mark O’Toole, bishop of Plymouth. Leading the Poole parishes is youth worker Paul Andrewartha.

Linking up with locals

LOCAL LINK: Clifton and Diocesan 2016 Krakow YFD rep Joseph Philip from east Dorset meets up with Grzegorz Krywak and David Serafin of Radio Krakow with others following a worship event.  Picture courtesy of Grzegorz Krywak of Krakow Radio.

Divine Mercy Shrine In Krakow

CATHOLIC SHRINE : The Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow is dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion, the resting place of Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska. The basilica was built between 1999 and 2002 and is located in the district of Lagiewniki. Three Popes have visited the shrine and millions visit it annually.

Mass of Humanity

MASS OF HUMANITY: Some of the pilgrims gathered in Bionia Park, Krakow, for part of the World Youth Day celebrations.


John Paul II

POLISH PONTIFF: The late Pope John Paul II initiated the concept of World Youth Day and is one of three Popes who regularly visited the Divine Mercy shrine in Krakow. The World Youth Day in 1991 took place in Czeschostowa under his papacy. The youth group from Dorset and Somerset and the rest of the West Country visited his home town of Watowice.



A GROUP of young pilgrims from Somerset and Dorset are currently in Poland celebrating World Youth Day.

The event brings young people of the Catholic Christian faith from all corners of the globe and many times this is expressed through chants or the singing of national songs. Over the course of the four-day event national objects are traded between pilgrims.

World Youth Day was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985. The first events leading up to the world-wide tour were held in the Vatican and it is taking place in Krakow, the second time that Poland has hosted the event. It previously was held in Czechostowa in 1991.

The event is held every two or three years and the last major World Youth Day took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and an open air mass was held on Copacabana Beach and 3.7 million pilgrims were in attendance.

Icons are sometimes carried amongst the pilgrims and later traded with souvenirs to pilgrims of other cultures.

On open-air mass was celebrated in Bionia Park and despite the rain, videos posted show that it failed to dampen spirits and plenty of flags were waved and banners unfurled.

For the past few days, I have been regularly following the posts on the Clifton and Plymouth Diocese’s Krakow 2016 page, courtesy of their public relations officers Joseph Philip, Anna Middlewick of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Falmouth and Jo Jo Collins and Gladys Joseph of the Clifton Diocese.

One video posted showed a couple celebrating their second wedding anniversary, a group of nuns dancing and in an earlier despatch, the group visited Watowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II.

Leading up to the main event, the group paid a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau, and made their own observations in this podcast with pictures which can be found here.

Joseph himself said of this visit: “An emotional and moving experience. A chapter on our pilgrimage we will never forget and a chance to learn of the sacrifice made by saints such as Maximilian Kolbe.”

One of the priests with the group called Father Kevin Hennessey, says on the podcast: “We have to be completely loving to our neighbours, even our enemies.

“This is a rainbow, a tapestry of different nationalities and different cultures and it is to be embraced and we are all in this together and whatever country, whatever religion, and this is part of the Year of Mercy reaching out to everyone, no matter where they come from or what their situation, particularly the poor and oppressed.”

  • THERE is a full podcast (including personal reflections) and pictures of the visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau here.

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