Bus 15 and 16 pilgrims began their first full day in the Zakopane area with an excellent hotel breakfast, followed by a morning of peaceful reflection and journalling on the theme ‘the inspiration of World Youth Day for me’.
At noon they took a 30 minute drive to the Koscieliska Valley for a scenic walk of up to two hours. The temperature is mild and warm at the moment, but reaches as low as -20 degrees on winter nights.
The afternoon concluded with an outdoor mass beneath a blue sky. In his homily, Fr Ben Johnson spoke about ‘coming down from the mountain’, and finding ways to keep up their newfound depth of faith on the return to Sydney.
“First and foremost will be their personal relationship with Jesus, and their prayer life expressed through participation in the sacraments, Sunday Mass and regular confession,” he said.
“We don’t do this as isolated beings. We need the support of those who have journeyed with us, so hopefully their participation in the life of the church continues and they look to each other for strength in that.
“It think it’s a brilliant idea to end the pilgrimage in Zakopane because we’re up on a mountain, and like Jesus after his transfiguration and his disciples, they went down from that mountain and height of experience and wonder to being confronted with the needs of the people and the pressures of being back in their own environment.
“It’s always difficult for anyone, I think, coming down from an experience as intense and as wonderful as World Youth Day, but now is that time to move forward.”