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Great story! I came across this news story and thought to reach out. You gave a great testimony Katie. Reminded me of my trips to WYD in Rome and Toronto. I just wanted to give you a heads up that I publish training material to help Catholic organisations improve their fundraising skills. The website is catholicfundraiser.net. You’ll notice that I added a quote by Pope Francis that speaks to the heart of my mission. It might make a nice addition to this page or your work to raise funds for Catholic causes. Either way, keep up the great work! Brice

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article about WYD, Krakow! As a youth ministry leader who had attended WYD Denver, Paris, and Rome with our beloved Mark Pacione and youth from my former parish, St. Gabriel, Woodlawn, I know this pilgrimage will remain forever in your thoughts & good works. Everyday as I pass through a hallway in my home in FL, the wall hangings from Denver, Paris and Rome, are a daily reminder of our faith that was shared with the world who in turn shared their faith with us. Blessings to you!

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Catholic faith Faith Knights of Columbus Krakow Mercy Religion World Youth Day prayer
Pilgrims in Krakow

The Mercy Centre: A journalist’s haven


By Maureen Cromer

Looking back on my time in Poland, I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences of my life. I was truly awestruck by the amount of young people in the church who made the pilgrimage to Kraków for World Youth Day.

That said, my time there was the most physically demanding assignment I’ve had since last September, when I shuttled between D.C. and Philadelphia on the trail of Pope Francis and our Feet for Francis pilgrims. WYD meant extremely long walks, blistering heat and sleepless nights. Through it all, however, there was a haven for both pilgrims and journalists alike: The Knights of Columbus Mercy Centre.


Archbishop William E. Lori addresses media during a press conference held at the Knights of Columbus Mercy Centre in Kraków, Poland July 27. (Maureen Cromer | CR Staff)


The Mercy Centre was the international English-language catechetical and youth festival site at the re-branded Tauron Arena, the largest sports arena in Poland. From July 26 to 31, tens of thousands of pilgrims would gather together for morning catechesis, confession, adoration and Mass.

(Courtesy Knights of Columbus) 

For the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, there was an even greater sense of home at the Mercy Centre, as Archbishop William E. Lori is the Supreme Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus.

There was signing and dancing to the morning’s playlist, pilgrims intently listening to testimonies from keynote speakers, and the viewing (on a screen seemingly as large as the ones at M&T Bank Stadium) of Pope Francis landing in Poland. There was an overwhelming feeling of excitement and faith in the air around us.



Archbishop William E. Lori greets pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the Vocations Cafe at the Knights of Columbus Mercy Centre in Kraków, Poland. (Maureen Cromer | CR Staff)

Fellow sponsors of the Mercy Centre included the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and the Sisters of Life. Salt + Light Television, Holy Cross Family Ministries, the Dominican Liturgical Institute, the National Conference of Religious Vocations Directors (NCRVD) and the National Council of Diocesan Vocations Directors (NCDVD) were also a large part of the amazing effort put forth.

Whether it was a place of celebration or simply a quiet place to reflect and pray, you could find exactly what you needed at the Knights of Columbus Mercy Centre. For myself, it was the internet and a water bottle. Thanks to the amazing staff at the Centre, it was all there!


The Blessed Sacrament is processed through the Knights of Columbus Mercy Centre during World Youth Day events July 27. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

To the many Knights and volunteers who made the Mercy Centre such a welcoming place in Kraków – THANK YOU!

August 11, 2016 10:18
By Maureen Cromer


World Youth Day closes: Celebrating with the Mass(es)


By Rachel Morin

A pilgrim from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, a parishioner of St. Louis in Clarksville and a rising sophomore at UMBC in Catonsville.

KRAKOW, Poland - This morning I woke up next to a million people.

The sun rose over the edge of the valley as we all started to sit up, nested in dew-speckled sleeping bags.

A pilgrim puts on her shoe at sunrise July 31, hours before Pope Francis celebrates the World Youth Day closing Mass at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Through the loudspeakers, mic checks began:

“Jeden, dwa, trzy … jeden, dwa, trzy”

(One, two, three … one, two, three).

Today is the last day of our Krakow pilgrimage and I can’t imaging being more tired, more hopeful, and more fulfilled than I am right now.

Around my wrist is a wish bracelet from Brazil that reads, “Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia,” or “In remembrance of the savior of Bahia.” Before tying it, I was asked to make three wishes, and then leave the bracelet on until it fell off naturally. It will probably still be on when I get home tomorrow.

This bracelet, these people gathered from hundreds of countries – they all create this stunning depiction of what it means to be Catholic and a citizen of the world. The wish bracelet reminds me of my goals and the people I care most about. I want to be able to share my experiences here with them, and let the words spoken here transform their hearts as they did mine.

The crowds of people create a stirring of faith unlike anything I’ve seen. Everyone is here to encounter Jesus. They bring their songs, language, and love to this one city in the world, walking side by side. Christ’s world is one of diversity and equity, and here we are able to experience something almost like that – where people give their excess to the less fortunate, exchange words and smiles with those who don’t look like them, and together share a single purpose for peace.

With everyone gathered together, the notion of a Universal Church doesn’t seem far off, and the joy and excitement of everyone around you lifts your spirit like nothing else. Isn’t it great to be a Catholic? We preach mercy, hope, forgiveness; we can change the world.

But as one person in a group of millions, it is easy to feel small. After this pilgrimage is over, we will all travel home without that crowd to cheer us on. What are we to do then? Pope Francis gave the answer to this as we celebrated Mass with him for the last time in Poland.

In a response to the Gospel reading about Zacchaeus, the tax collector who was not tall enough to see Jesus over the crowd (Lk. 19: 1-10), Pope Francis said that “Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy.”

He went on to say, however, that no one is insignificant or unworthy of a relationship with Jesus. We were meant to love our lives and live them to the fullest for the sake of the world. Despite the challenges we have faced or might face when we return, it is important to never give up.

As I looked around at the crowds during Mass, I witnessed the importance of every soul in that park. The weather today was hot, and if someone passed out or felt sick, the medical staff was there to carry that person away on a stretcher and instruct the entire crowd to move for the ambulance that brought them to the hospital. Every person was cared for – no life was expendable. I witnessed my own significance yesterday when I was offered a mat to lie on from a kind Polish stranger. We exchanged names and will both probably remember that experience for a long time.

Today at the park I look up,
We are all under this one patch of sky,
where we came from all over the world.
Now we watch the same cloud pass slowly over the earth.
We look up, heaven looks down.
We are all God’s people.

And when we walk, drive, fly home,
This sky will follow each soul who breathed its air.

July 31, 2016 09:36
By Maureen Cromer


Pilgrimage: More than miles

 
By Maureen Cromer

mcromer@CatholicReview.org

KRAKOW, Poland – The past 10 days have been filled with fun, faith and fellowship, but they have also been filled with sleepless nights, long walks and pure exhaustion.

When I woke up this morning,Aug. 30, I didn’t think my body was capable of getting out of bed. My legs were sore, my arms were tired and eyes were heavy. And then it hit me like a train – today is pilgrimage day.

What stood before me on this gorgeous morning was an 8-mile journey (or so we thought!) to Campus Misericordiae, the site of the Saturday night vigil and Sunday morning Mass with Pope Francis.

As the pilgrims and I packed our backpacks and got ready for the journey, I prayed. I asked God to bless me with whatever strength He could. I was so afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to make it. My fellow pilgrims, however, gave me the strength I was looking for.

We began the pilgrimage a little after noon. For the first few miles, everyone was giddy with excitement. As I watched these 40 young people begin this long journey with smiles on their faces, I was so proud that I was a part of it.

First they made a pilgrimage to Krakow, and then Archdiocese of Baltimore pilgrims made a pilgrimage-within-a-pilgrimage to the vigil with Pope Francis. (Maureen Cromer/CR Staff)



Maryland flag? Check. Neck pillow? Check. A pilgrim follows the path to the Saturday-night vigil. (Maureen Cromer/CR Staff)

The excitement, however, wore off little by little, as the sun got stronger, the heat rose, and we walked farther.

After four-and-a-half hours and a little over 9 miles, the pilgrims and I reached Campus Misericordiae – and just like that, the excitement was back!

There was an absolute mess of other pilgrims around us, hundreds of flags flying above us, and songs of other countries coming from every direction. It was almost as if the world had collapsed into Brezgi, Poland. All of these citizens of the world had come for the same reason we did – to share their faith with one another and with the Holy Father.

We spent the evening hearing witnesses to faith, celebrating the universality of the church, participating in adoration and standing vigil in prayer with Pope Francis.

During his address to the pilgrims, Pope Francis called upon each of us to leave a mark on this world.

“Being on this pilgrimage means a lot to me because it has shown me how universal our church really is,” said Jessica Brinker, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Fields and an incoming freshman at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. “I see that despite the loss of faith in our culture, my generation is changing the world.”

And now, as we prepare for the end of our journey here at World Youth Day, we look forward to the future and to a world were the bridges we are building here today grow stronger with faith and love.

Through God, all things are possible – even pilgrimage.




The sun sets over World Youth Day pilgrims as Pope Francis attends a July 30 prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

July 30, 2016 07:28
By Maureen Cromer


Fundraising - for a better understanding of the cross

 
By Katie Erskine 

Member of ChristLife and youth minister at St. Louis, Clarksville
 
Did you just cringe? Because I did. 
 
To make possible our World Youth Day pilgrimage, the small group from my parish, St. Louis, had to do a fair amount of fundraising. Though there are few things I find so uncomfortable, I must admit that convincing other people why they should invest in sending me to Poland did get me thinking: Why go on a pilgrimage? Why go on a pilgrimage to Poland? Why go on a pilgrimage to Poland with a million other people? 


 
Pilgrims from a vast array of nations await Pope Francis' arrival in Blonia Park. (Katie Erskine/Courtesy)
  
I did not come on pilgrimage because I love walking 10 miles a day on blisters, or because I’m particularly fond of having my face in a stranger's armpit as they cling to the handrail in the tram for stability, or because I simply cannot get enough hot dogs in America. I came on pilgrimage because I know God does big things when we are together - big things like, you know, Pentecost.

We all know the Pentecost reading, the one with all the hard-to-pronounce nationalities that makes you pity whoever is reading at Mass. Recall the scene during Pentecost: Jews from all over the world were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Shavout, the commemoration of when God gave Moses the Torah. The Jews were on pilgrimage.  

Think of how absolutely brilliant God’s timing was on that one. The Lord chose to send down his Holy Spirit and give birth to his church when he conveniently had “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers of Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia … ” (Acts 3:9) all in one place! Together. On pilgrimage. 
And what did all these newly converted Christians do after they had committed to following Jesus? 

They went home to their various dwellings across the world, taking a little thing called the Good News with them. If you want to change the world, bringing people together through pilgrimage is the way to do it.  

Today (July 29) we took a pilgrimage within a pilgrimage: The Way of the Cross. Historically, Christians would visit the Holy Land to walk the path the Lord did on his way to Calvary. As this became less practical, Christians began creating their own “Stations of the Cross” in their cities. How fitting to reflect on the Cross, the Vehicle of Mercy, on this pilgrimage about mercy. “The cross,” Pope Francis tells us, “is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world.” 

The Way of the Cross was a main event for World Youth Day and all were invited to gather together in Błonia Park to pray together. As destiny would have it, my group ended up taking a wrong turn in the confusion of the crowds and was unable to make it to the park. We stood outside, by a fence, listening to an English translation of the prayer through the static of a radio.  

As I sat by the fence, I considered how incredible it was to be together, on pilgrimage, with a million young Catholics, remembering the cross of Jesus Christ in the same country where Christianity was persecuted not even 30 years ago. Our gathering in Błonia park was testament that the Cross had won the battle in suffering Poland.  

Like the early Christians going forth after Pentecost, all of the pilgrims will have to leave Poland. Yet, we will leave with more than we brought. I, personally, will be coming home with more than my under-50 pound suitcase, carry-on bag and blisters. I will be bringing home with me something that makes every fundraising weekend and every penny contributed to our trip worth it. I will be bringing home with me a better understanding of God’s answer to the suffering and evil in our world and church: “His answer is the Cross of Christ: a world which is love, mercy, and forgiveness.”

(Katie Erskine/Courtesy)

July 29, 2016 06:00
By Maureen Cromer


Blessed: A priest describes giving, receiving mercy at WYD


By Father Matthew Buening

Chaplain of the Towson University Newman Center

KRAKOW, Poland – I had already declared World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland, my favorite of the five wonderful experiences I have had with the youth of the world and the pope. However, something happened today that made this WYD so awesome that – even if it rained for the rest of the pilgrimage and I never found another delicious pierogi – I would still proclaim this visit to the city of saints in this land of great suffering one of the greatest moments of my life.

Why? Because today I got to hear confessions at the “field of mercy” in the shadow of the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy.

Now of course I have heard confessions before, and as many priests will tell you celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation is the time when we feel most Christ-like. It is always an awe-inspiring moment to be an instrument of God’s Divine Mercy.

However, as they dragged me away from the confessional kicking and screaming after three and a half hours of hearing confessions, I wondered what in particular made these confessions at this World Youth Day so profound and powerful.

I think the answer lies is something that that has been talked about a lot here in Krakow, by everyone from the pilgrims on the street to our Holy Father himself. It is the theme of this World Youth Day, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7).

In these grace-filled moments of reconciliation with pilgrims from all around the world who seriously desired to make this World Youth Day a life-changing event, I found that the more I dished out mercy and love the more I was filled with it myself. I couldn’t get enough. I felt as if the Lord was pouring His mercy upon me with every soul that I was privileged to encounter.


A priest hears the confession of a World Youth Day pilgrim at Park Jordana in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)


I never knew how some of these great saints in our tradition could hear confessions for hours and hours on end without stop, but after this experience I think I have a glimpse of what they must have felt. It was overwhelming and inspiring all at the same time and I hungered to forgive and minister mercy like never before.

I eventually left the field of mercy where maybe 75 priests were hearing confessions in every language imaginable, partly because I knew I had gone past my allotted time, and even though the line of penitents was still long I did not want to deprive any priest of the same blessing I had received. The truth be told I also wanted to be with my fellow pilgrims from Baltimore as we were going to meet Archbishop Lori for Polish desserts. However, I needed to write and share that absolutely nothing could be as sweet as the grace I experienced in the field of mercy next to the Divine Mercy Shrine during this World Youth Day.

It is a grace that each and every one of us can experience if we take to heart the theme of WYD and this Year of Mercy: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!

July 29, 2016 03:38
By Maureen Cromer


Seeing the pope for the first time


By Jonathan Gunner 

Parishioner of St. Louis, Clarksville 

KRAKOW, Poland - The day started as planned at the Mercy Centre for catechesis, Mass, and meeting Archbishop Lori. Mixed in there was a shared testimony from a couple who met while part of the famous youth group started by St. John Paul II. They shared how they called him "Uncle," which he took to affectionately. Even after he was elected to the papacy, he continued to refer to himself as Uncle in correspondence. 

Following lunch at the Mercy Centre, I headed into town with fellow pilgrim Matt Schnepper, but we took the wrong train. Perhaps by divine providence, as we backtracked, we found a church with relics from Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. One of my favorite prayers is the Frassati prayer for courage, which was so cool to pray in front of the relics. We finally made our way to the city center, and after tooling around a bit, we made plans to attend the evening activities at the Mercy Centre, which included a talk by Los Angeles Bishop Robert Barron, followed by a concert featuring Matt Maher and Audrey Assad. 

Our plans were derailed when we learned that the Mercy Centre had reached capacity. As we were grasping that, Matt happened to check out the news section of the “Pilgrim” app, and saw that Pope Francis was at the Wawel Cathedral. We figured, why not? Maybe we could see him. It looked like people were gathering, but not at critical mass, so we first got some yummy lamb sausage. After that we joined the others near the cathedral, hoping for a glimpse.



This is an early September view of the Cathedral of Sts. Stanislaus and Wenceslas situated next to the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill in Krakow. In this cathedral St. John Paul II celebrated his first Mass as a priest in 1946, was consecrated a bishop in 1958 and installed the archbishop of Krakow in 1964. The presence of a church at this site dates back to around 1025. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)


First to come by was supposedly the prime minister of Poland, then some security, giving credence to the circulating rumor that Pope Francis would be driving by as well. 
Finally, after waiting, and waiting, and waiting, we saw him! 

I’ve honestly never been super excited about seeing the pope. I didn’t go to see either Pope Benedict or Pope Francis when they visited Washington, D.C. However, there really was something special about seeing him today. The only way I can describe it was that there was a glow that came from him, an aura that could only come from the joy that he has. 

While the day didn’t fully go as planned, the Lord gave me something so much better! 

July 27, 2016 07:16
By Maureen Cromer


Raising banners with the universal Church


By Craig Gould

Director of youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore

“Jesus Christ, you are my life. You are my life, Alleluia.”

Only the Church can do this. Only the Church can gather the world, raising banners from every nation to sing these words to God. Only the Church can draw from every race, every nation, every culture.

“Jesus Christ, you are my life. You are my life, Alleluia.”

Which is to say only Jesus can do this. Only He draws the wealthy and the poor, the strong and the lame. Only He beckons us to come with a call that demands us respond. Only He puts the desire so deep in our hearts that we cross oceans and lands to hear what word He would have for us here and now.

“Jesus Christ, you are my life. You are my life, Alleluia.”

Which is to say only the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, can do this. Only God can set the vision and give us a part to play in it. Only God sees the devout husband and wife who will raise a family, the bold woman who will become a sister, the holy man who will become a priest. Only God fits those together to move the world from a state of panic and pain to peace and healing. Only God sees the million of us and each of us at the same time.

“Jesus Christ, you are my life. You are my life, Alleluia.”

We 40 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Baltimore sang for you tonight, so that you might hear the song and be inspired, as we were. That you may know how that song goes, so when we come back we will all be able to sing it together.

Pilgrims join in song at the opening Mass for World Youth Day on July 26 in Krakow. 

For a world that needs Jesus Christ as its life. For our Church that often needs Jesus to be reminded that He is our life. We sang with Poles, Argentines, Koreans and Ugandans so that when we come home we can sing with Catonsville, Highlandtown, Bradshaw and Millersville. Jesus Christ is the the life of the Church, all around the world, and Alleluia for that.


The Maryland flag flies in Krakow as pilgrims get ready for the opening Mass of World Youth Day. (Maureen Cromer/CR Staff)

July 26, 2016 05:56
By Maureen Cromer


Sunday: Czestochowa and Onward to Kraków


By Tyler Kline

Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Baltimore

After a quick breakfast, we loaded onto the bus departing for Czestochowa so we could celebrate Mass with other pilgrims in front of the Icon of the Black Madonna. Tradition holds that this image was painted by the hand of St. Luke. The image shows us Mary as the one who leads the whole world to Jesus. As we start out on our pilgrimage, a journey to encounter Jesus Christ, it is a great blessing to go to the feet of the Mother of God and ask her to lead us to her Divine Son.


Tradition holds that the Icon of the Black Madonna came from St. Luke's hand. (Courtesy of Matthew Himes)

The Black Madonna is housed at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland. Jasna Gora, which means “Hill of Light,” is perhaps the most important pilgrimage sight in Poland. It was here that Saint Pope John Paul II issued the iconic painting its third canonical coronation on Aug. 26, 2005.

After touring the grounds of the monastery, including the stunning baroque basilica, we were blessed to join in Holy Mass, celebrated feet from the ancient Marian image, with hundreds of other American pilgrims on their way to Kraków.

Prior to the Mass, the group of Baltimore pilgrims were fortunate (and persistent) enough to be able to pray within the sanctuary which houses the ancient icon. There we prayed the rosary together, which Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, celebrant of today's Mass, referred to as “a weapon of mass conversion” in his homily.


Archdiocese of Baltimore seminarians Matthew Himes, left, and Tyler Kline enjoy Czestochowa. (Courtesy of Matthew Himes)

Archbishop Wenski also referred to the shrine as the “spiritual lungs of the Polish people.” It was here that the people of Poland drew the breath that sustained them through centuries of struggle and oppression. He reminded those gathered at the shrine that we are not tourists; we are pilgrims. He reminded us that our experience of pilgrimage here should help us to remember that our whole life is a pilgrimage – a journey toward encounter with the Lord.

As we head on to Kraków, the “City of Saints,” we remember the importance of Our Lady in the life of one of those saints, Poland’s beloved son, Saint John Paul II. Having lost his mother at an early age, the young Karol Wojtyla prayed to this image of Our Lady saying, “You will have to be my mother now.”

The Pontiff maintained this close relationship throughout his life, seen in his motto, Totus Tuus Maria, or “Totally Yours Maria.”

It was in the womb of the young virgin, in that concrete place, that the Word of God took root among the human race. Praying at her feet we prayed that we too may experience the Word of God, Jesus Christ, in the concrete experience we are blessed to have here in Poland.

We remember the ancient Marian prayer of St. Bernard of Clarveaux, which Archbishop Wenski recalled in his homily:

Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary that
never was is known, that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intersession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence we fly to you O Virgin of Virigins,
Our Mother. To you do we come before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful.
Despise to our petitions but in your mercy hear and answer them. Amen.

July 24, 2016 06:48
By Maureen Cromer


Saturday in Poland: Warsaw Old Town and 'true greatness'


By Maureen Cromer

After a very much needed full night’s sleep, our journey to Kraków continued on Saturday morning with Mass in the park celebrated by Father Matthew Buening, chaplain of the Towson University Newman Center.


Father Matthew Buening celebrates Mass outdoors. (Courtesy Matthew Himes)

Following Mass, we headed to the Warsaw Old Town, the historic part of Poland's capital, for a short, self-guided walking tour.

Interestingly enough, Old Town is not really all that old. The original buildings and churches that once stood in Old Town were destroyed during World War II. However, the Polish government and a team of historians rebuilt the historic city based off of paintings of the original structures.


Pilgrims enjoyed self-guided tours of Warsaw Old Town. (Maureen Cromer/CR Staff)

After departing Old Town, we headed for a World Youth Day kickoff picnic and event with other U.S. pilgrims hosted by our travel provider, Dube Travel.

We were joined at the event by pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Boston, the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., and the Diocese of Orlando, to name a few.

Following the picnic, the pilgrims gathered together to hear noted Catholic youth evangelist Chris Stefanick speak about faith and sharing the experience of a pilgrimage with all those around us.

“True greatness always triumphs,” Stefanick said. “It comes out of the struggles of our lives.”

Before departing for our hotel, all of the U.S. pilgrims had the opportunity to participate in eucharistic adoration and confession at Sanktuarium Milosierdzia Bozego – one of the Holy Doors for this Holy Year of Mercy.

July 24, 2016 02:11
By Maureen Cromer


Poland: Days one and two


By Maureen Cromer

We made it through our first day – well, technically, two days.

Yesterday morning, 40 pilgrims from across the Archdiocese of Baltimore met at Dulles International Airport ready for departure to Kraków, Poland – the site of World Youth Day 2016.

After 14 hours of traveling, a layover in Frankfurt and little to no sleep, we have officially completed our first full day in Poland.


Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Baltimore display the Maryland flag. (Maureen Cromer/CR Staff)

After arriving in Warsaw and checking into our hotel earlier today, we immediately sprung into our packed itinerary, starting with a bilingual Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Immaculate at Niepokalanów monastery.

The basilica is also known as the Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe because Niepokalanów is the Conventual Franciscan monastery he founded.

Although the Mass was celebrated in Polish and Spanish, the Baltimore archdiocese’s own Father Matthew Buening, chaplain of the Towson University Newman Center, concelebrated.


Father Matthew Buening concelebrates Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Immaculate at Niepokalanów.
(Maureen Cromer/CR Staff)

Following Mass, the Baltimore group had the opportunity to visit the original monastery chapel and the museum that commemorates the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Relics of St. Maximilian were venerated at the English language Mass in the chapel.

Overly tired from countless hours of travel and excitement, we ended our day at our first group dinner where we all shared stories, hopes for the trip and many laughs.

If today was a sign of the times to come, I can very much guarantee on this being an amazing trip for all of us.


July 22, 2016 03:18
By Maureen Cromer

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