Your journey starts here. This was the message for the 600 Year 9 and 10 students from Sydney Catholic secondary schools who attended the ‘Road to Krakow’ event to mark one year until World Youth Day 2016 in the Polish city.
Held at All Saints Catholic Boys College Liverpool on Friday, the day began with a question and answer session with Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher, followed by mass in the All Saints parish church, where students from the Catholic Schools Performing Arts (CaSPA) choir and orchestra provided the music.
Bethlehem College student Molly began the question and answer session by asking Archbishop Fisher why he would recommend World Youth Day, which he described as a “life changing experience”. His Grace has attended five World Youth Day events including the Sydney event which he helped to orgainse in 2008, and the most recent one held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 2014.
“Every young person I’ve talked to thinks it is a wonderful experience,” he said.
“I think for a lot of young people who care about the world, are idealistic and love God when a lot of people don’t it can be a bit lonely. When you are there you discover millions of young people just like you, who care personally about our world, who have got big ideals and plans, and who care about God and the Church. That is part of the reason that it changes people – they discover they are not alone.”
Archbishop Fisher also told the future pilgrims they could prepare for their time in Krakow by being open to the divine mercy of God, and being merciful themselves. The theme for WYD 2016 is “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” He declared Sydney’s World Youth Day his favourite and when asked by a student where the most unusual place he had celebrated Mass had been, named Randwick Racecourse.
“It was weird because that’s usually about horses running around in circles and people gambling lots, and instead there we were for God and for the young people of the world. It really did become a holy place because of the young people bringing their hopes and dreams and their love of God with them.”
Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg Year 10 students Sarah Dunn and Brianna Fraser said they were looking forward to attending World Youth Day next year. “I’m excited to meet new people,” said Lara Jennings, a Year 9 student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington.
Trinity Catholic College Auburn Year 10 student Jared Georges said he was encouraged by his teachers to attend. “It will be a good opportunity to grow in my faith and have a good time,” he said.
Students at All Saints Catholic Boys’ and Girls’ colleges William Simpson and Samantha Riel will both attend WYD 2016 and hope to walk the Camino in Italy as pilgrims before the official events in Poland next July.
“Meeting new people, the sightseeing, and also knowing that you’re sharing the celebration with millions of other people from across the world will be the best things,” Samantha said.
William said his sister, who went to World Youth Days in Sydney and Rio, encouraged him to sign up to go to Krakow. “She said it was one of the best experiences she ever had and it’s one I want to attain,” he said. “The places intrigue me, as well.”
The afternoon included personal accounts of past World Youth Days and encounters with Polish hospitality. It ended with by a performance by Polish dancers and afternoon tea of Polish donuts.
- Read more in the Term 3 edition of About Catholic Schools magazine