By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Several young adults from the Diocese of Davenport who are making a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Poland next week shared with The Catholic Messenger their hopes for the prayerful journey.
They look forward to seeing Pope Francis, who will lead events July 27-31 at World Youth Day, which takes place in and around Krakow. A closing overnight vigil and Mass is expected to draw as many as 2 million attendees from around the world. In the U.S., more than 30,000 pilgrims have fully registered and another 10,000 have partially registered, according to Catholic News Service.
Here are some thoughts from pilgrims of the Davenport Diocese:
Luke Ebener, youth minister at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport. Participating in World Youth Day is “something I’ve always wanted to do! Traveling the world and being surrounded by young Catholics is a dream for me!” He hopes that pilgrimage provides him with an opportunity “to truly experience the universal and young church in a profound and unique way. Being surrounded by millions of young people from all over the world naturally opens you up in a special way to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you in ways that you can’t really get or experience anywhere else.” If he could have a minute with Pope Francis, Ebener would say: “Thank you. And then ask him to hear my confession, although that might take longer than a minute!”
Kathryn Bowers, St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City. “I was encouraged by Father Thom Hennen last WYD to go to Rio de Janeiro. At that time I wasn’t ready. Now that my husband (Adam) and I are married we decided we wanted this to be our last big pilgrimage before we start a family. We both wanted this to be an opportunity for us to grow deeper into our faith and our marriage.”
She looks forward to visiting the country where World Youth Day began as an initiative of St. John Paul II. She anticipates seeing places such as where JPII and St. Faustina lived, going to Auschwitz to visit the shrine to St. Maximilian Kolbe, and going to Our Lady of Czestochowa. “I hope to be inspired and renewed in faith by the lives of these amazing Catholic saints and the two to four million other pilgrims who will be there with me.” If she were to have a minute with Pope Francis, Kathryn said, “I would love to thank him for what he is doing for the church and encourage him. I would also ask him for his prayers/blessings for myself and for our marriage.”
Sarah Beaudry, St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville. “World Youth Day was first mentioned to me at a CYAN (Catholic Young Adult Network) meeting. From there I looked in to the pilgrimage and talked it over with family. It is a great opportunity to travel and to be surrounded by so many Catholics all in one place believing in the same thing.” Through her participation in World Youth Day, “I hope to deepen my faith. I also feel that this pilgrimage opportunity will allow me to spiritually grow in new ways that the Holy Spirit may lead me.” If she could have a minute with Pope Francis, Beaudry said “I would ask for his blessing and mercy. I would also like to ask him what helps him remember each day that he is a beloved child of God.”