BY TANYA MARTIN
Hi my name is Tanya and I was very blessed to be able to go to WYD this year in Krakow, Poland. I went with the diocesan of Parramatta, Sydney.
It was a three week trip in which we first travelled to the Philippines. We went to Tagbilaran on the Island of Bohol for our mission encounter and were involved in subjects such as English & Maths as well as working on projects around the school, sharing & learning some games and observing culture and traditions. I got the opportunity to meet so many people, interacting with the students and teachers, they were so welcoming and shared what little they had.
Their faith in God and the hope in their smiles was breathtaking especially after the devastating earthquake that hit them which they are still rebuilding from. We were also lucky enough to be honoured with culture encounters where they shared their culture through dance, music and food.
Before the festivities of WYD in Poland I was able to see some sites such as Auschwitz which is a former concentration camp and Kalwaria Zebrzydowska which is one of Poland’s most famous shrines and a place which Pope John Paul often went to.
One of the best opportunities I had was being able to go to mass almost every day. We went to different churches and cathedrals which were beautiful and we listened to amazing choirs that echoed across the church sounding like angels. Making me realise how beautiful mass is, drawing me closer to God. I was also able to go to morning catechesis and listen to bishops from around the world who spoke on the WYD topic ‘Blessed are the Merciful’. I discovered that mercy has a face and it emanates through us.
The papal mass was the first encounter of what WYD would be like, seeing flags from all across the world and meeting people from those countries was culturally enlightening.
The way of the cross was also wonderfully performed as they had dances and artists performing, representing each station.
The sleep out was definitely an unforgettable experience as we had to walk many kilometres to get to the park. In preparation for the Sunday Vigil we had mass, candlelight prayer and slept out till the next day, so we could go to the final mass.
This was the end of WYD and I couldn’t believe it.Overall my experience of WYD was unforgettable, the people I met, the places I went, the stories I heard and the memories I made. If you are thinking of going to the next WYD I encourage it, the pilgrimage was physically exhausting and remember it is a pilgrimage it will be hard but it is all worth it, you will experience something you never have before. If anyone has questions, feel free to contact us, I am more than happy to share my experience with others.