Our Youth

A Journey to DC in Honor of Our Mother

 By Karolina Smiarowska

 Karolina Smiarowska
Karolina Smiarowska

Karolina Smiarowska, 18, joined her fellow parishioners from St. Matthias, Ridgewood, for the diocesan pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Oct. 25. For her, the pilgrimage served as a continuation of the formation she received at World Youth Day Brazil and as a Jornadista.

The experience was absolutely great! Upon arrival, we were greeted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros.

I think everyone’s response after opening the doors to the Basilica was “Wow.” It was just so big and beautiful.

Father Daniel Rajski and Father Marcin Chilzuk gave our group a tour around the basilica. We got to see chapels dedicated to Mary such as Our Lady of China and Our Lady of Guadalupe, where we thanked and prayed for Mary’s constant love and care for our countries.

Being of Polish heritage, visiting Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of Poland, in Washinton, D.C., was one of the factors that helped me board a bus before the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. I wanted to make a spiritual journey and tribute to our Blessed Mother. I also wanted to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East with the diocesan community.

Our Lady of Czestochowa at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C. Photo © Karolina Smiarowska/Museo Jornadista
Our Lady of Czestochowa at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C. Photo © Karolina Smiarowska/Museo Jornadista

After our little group tour, we had some time for personal exploration, as well as an opportunity to go to confession in our language of preference.

At 12:30 p.m., Bishop DiMarzio led the 3,000 pilgrims from the Diocese of Brooklyn in a multilingual rosary. Leaders from diocesan apostolates led Hail Marys in Spanish, English, Polish, Italian and Korean. It was very nice to hear everyone praying together, everyone in their own language.

The diversity of languages could also be heard during Mass at the Prayer of the Faithful, which was said in Creole, Mandarin, Gaelic, Portuguese and others.

Everyone at the pilgrimage was really nice to each other. We were all there to celebrate and pray together, and that is what we did. Within my own group at St. Matthias, we all shared food with each other. Everyone was happy to be there. There were members of our group who were on a waiting list before a seat opened up for them. Everyone had a really good time.

Personally, I am very happy that I got the opportunity to go. The celebration and prayer time was very meaningful, and I hope that with such a big group praying, our prayers will be answered.

When I arrived, I saw one of my friends who I haven’t spoken to in a really long time. Our relationship went downhill a couple years back, and ever since then, we have only exchanged a couple of words. But during this pilgrimage, we shook hands and just after that moment, I felt like everything was all right between us. We spoke later that night, and I think that we might have a shot of being friends again.

The way everything was organized and scheduled so precisely made touring the church, celebrating Mass and having time to bond with our fellow Catholics very easy. I recommend this trip to everyone. It is truly a great experience.

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