World Youth Day: Poland Style

Kaitlin, Gabrielle, and some friends on The Zakopane Tatry mountain

Anna Skog, Reporter

In 1983, Pope John Paul II addressed the youth of the world: “You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.” A few years later, in 1986, the first World Youth Day took place in Rome. This event has taken place every one to three years since, drawing youth from all over the world. This year, the Catholic gathering took place in Krakow, Poland.

A few of St. Ed’s own took the pilgrimage 4,728 miles to see the Pope and unite with youth around the world. Kaitlin Freeman (’17) and Gabrielle Grinnell (’17) made the trip to Poland along with about 70 other youth from three local parishes including their own, Resurrection Catholic Church in Bartlett. “Praising one God in hundreds of languages was something I’ve never thought I would ever experience, and doing it in such a beautiful country such as Poland. I knew I was truly blessed.” says Gabrielle, who was able to experience a candlelight vigil with the Pope in person.

Along with participating in Mass and worship, the youth group climbed the Tatra mountains in Zakopane, and visited well known places such as Auschwitz, which Kaitlin describes as “chilling…to be in such a tragic piece of history. We prayed intensely for healing and that something with such suffering would never happen again.” The youth group was also able to visit St. John Paul II’s boyhood home, parish and school, St. Faustina’s home parish and house, the Basilica in Lichen, and the place where St. Maximilian Kolbe started his ministry.

“My faith grew from visiting many religious places and it made me fall in love with being Catholic,” says Kaitlin.  World Youth Day 2016 was a huge success, uniting Catholics from all over the world, and allowing some of St. Edward’s own to experience and live their faith. The next World Youth Day will take place in 2019 in Panama.