During the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to travel to Krakow, Poland, to attend World Youth Day. I began my journey with five other people from my parish, Holy Family Church in Fresh Meadows. along with the 500 people from the Diocese of Brooklyn. I had no expectations for what was to come my way.
I had so many incredible experiences when I realized that there were approximately 3 million Catholics who came from across the world to be united in Poland because of their love and passion for Jesus. There were an overwhelming amount of opportunities to experience the year of mercy throughout the different activities in Poland. I attended the catechesis sessions in Krakow, walked through the concentration camp in Auschwitz, visited the chapel in the shrine of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa, and attended the festival in Blonia Park where Pope Francis visited the anxiously awaiting pilgrims.
The incredible overnight experience in Krakow was so joyful as I walked along a five mile route with the rest of the young people from Brooklyn and Queens. We camped out in an open field and joined millions of youth in a peaceful environment. The year’s World Youth Day was focused upon the lives of Saint Pope John Paul II, Saint Faustina and Saint Maximilian Kolbe, especially during the catechesis sessions.
World Youth Day in Krakow changed my view of Catholicism because I was used to attending church on Sundays and occasionally a meeting with my youth group. I never would believe that there were so many young Catholics that are truly seeking Jesus and eager to spread his mission. I truly believe that my Catholic faith has been transformed spiritually and I am very grateful for that experience.
I hope to attend World Youth Day in Panama in 2019!