Up Front and Personal

Expectations of a World Youth Day Pilgrim

by Salvatore Isabella

Salvatore and friends from Immaculate Conception, Astoria, prepare to leave for WYD.
Salvatore and friends from Immaculate Conception, Astoria, prepare to leave for WYD.

I am very honored and privileged to be attending World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland. This is my third World Youth Day, and this one is so special to me because it is the birthplace of World Youth Day’s founder St. Pope John Paul II. There are so many beautiful sites that I am looking forward to visiting and attending Mass.

For this World Youth Day, I have a lot of expectations. One of which is in my heart. I have had the thought of the priesthood since I became an altar server back before I started high school when I attended my first World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain. I am hoping this pilgrimage draws me even more closer to that decision.

I am also looking forward to meeting so many other millions of people. The best part about World Youth Day is meeting other people from the country of your family’s origin. Mine is Italy. Exchanging flags or exchanging pins is a sincere sign that you are praying for that person and making a new friendship.

A site I am looking forward to visiting is Auschwitz, the site of one of the concentration camps where the Holocaust took place. After learning and hearing so much history about that emotional camp, it’s hard to imagine that I would actually be able to visit there on this wonderful occasion of World Youth Day.

To be able to visit the site and cell of the murdered St. Maximilian Kolbe and to attend a catechesis session there – that will be something I will never forget. I’m sure I will look back and better appreciate the wide array of history that has taken place in these very sites.

Lastly, I cannot forget the best part about World Youth Day: getting to camp out and keeping vigil with millions of others, praying with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and then waking up the next day to celebrate the Mass and hear the announcement of the next World Youth Day.