(World Youth Day participants from the Diocese of Davenport share brief reflections on their experience at the international event held July 27-31 in Poland.)
World Youth Day was an amazing experience. During events leading up to and during WYD (World Youth Day) we were able to experience the rich culture of Poland. Its history is so deeply moving and the saints that came from Poland are truly some incredible people. As more people gathered, one really begins to see how diverse and how universal the Catholic Church is. We all come together to celebrate the same faith, and to join in friendships from around the world. The Holy Spirit is still working through me as I continue to reflect on all that has happened spiritually and emotionally during our time in the great country of Poland!
— Sarah Beaudry, St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville
I found illumination on the trip while praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before an outdoor Mass. It happened after visiting some museums that displayed the effects of World War II. While I was in prayer, all of the pictures and everything that I read about WWII swam through my mind and sank into my heart. Before the trip I realized that there is much need for mercy in the world. After that experience I understand that I have only begun to grasp how much we need mercy. “Blest Are The Merciful” was the theme song for World Youth Day 2016 after all.
One of the best parts of the trip was seeing all of the churches of Krakow. Almost every street corner had a church! Each one had something different to offer from an architectural point of view. We also saw relics of St. John Paul II, St. Faustina, and many others. It was an uplifting feeling to see them and to pray for intercessions.
Where I see God calling me after the WYD experience is still not totally clear to me. Prayer has had such an impact on me since the trip. Seeing the seminarians in our group praying regularly and having the chance to partake in small group prayers three to five times daily helped me in saying my own prayers. It has helped me grow closer to God, and I desire it more and more every day. Through prayer I will find what God’s plan is, and so I’ll patiently wait.
— Adam Bowers, St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City
Something I took away from going to WYD was how universal the Catholic Church really is. I knew this beforehand but I experienced it in Poland. The first week in Warsaw we frequently met other pilgrims. We all got really excited to see one another, shouting across streets just to ask where the other is from. The French loved to photo bomb pictures to Venezuelans who were constantly playing drums, other instruments and singing. I got to see joy-filled young adults and teens excited about their faith from across the world. When we went to church in Warsaw at the basilica we had a quad-lingual Mass because of the multiple countries represented! The most incredible part for me at the Mass was being able to sit by two Chinese young adults!
China was represented even though the Chinese government severely restricts religious activities. I wonder what they must have done to get there. In Krakow we were able to hear from a Sudanese refugee woman about being persecuted for her faith by ISIS and from a Palestinian group also persecuted and restricted because of their faith. It makes me appreciate our freedom of religion and how we desperately need to fight to keep it.
One of my favorite places was the St. John Paul II museum in the old apartment building where he grew up and the St. John Paul II Shrine and Church. I have a deep love for JPII and I got to see some amazing things at the museum such as his blood-stained cassock from the day he was shot at St. Peter’s square, his birthplace and hometown, the many places he traveled during his papacy, and his deep love of the mountains. He was such an incredible man and truly a living saint during his time. I hope with my return to the U.S. to reflect even a small part of his devoted faith and immense love of Jesus.
— Kathryn Bowers, St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City
I think it was a beautiful trip that had its ups and downs. It was hard to be out of my comfort zone surrounded by millions of people, but at the same time millions of people and I were celebrating our Catholic faith, which is truly a beautiful thing.
— Ellie Delgado, St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City