Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski, a native of Poland, is going to World Youth Day (WYD) with 400 pilgrims from Brooklyn and Queens, as well as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros.
The bishop sees a deep connection between the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and celebrating World Youth Day in Krakow, a city rich in history in the southern part of Poland.
Young adults going to Krakow July 26-31 may know this world heritage site as the place where St. John Paul II studied, became a priest, bishop and cardinal.
“Our St. John Paul II was an advocate of mercy,” Bishop Mroziewski said. “He established Divine Mercy Sunday and he also beatified and canonized Sister Faustina.”
The Monastery of the Sisters of Mercy in Krakow is where St. Faustina Kowalska proclaimed the Divine Mercy of God. Bishop Mroziewski said Sister Faustina was an apostle of God’s mercy.
“She officially announced that Christ gave her a vision of Himself, a vision of His mercy,” he said. “The sanctuary of Divine Mercy is one of the most important places in Poland.”
Pope Francis will be the third pope to visit the Divine Mercy Shrine and the first one to listen to confessions there.
During a visit to Poland last February, Bishop Mroziewski saw how important the preparations for WYD were to all bishops in Poland and civil authorities. The celebration of the young Catholic Church is expected to bring up to two million people from 187 countries.
“People are waiting for the message from Pope Francis. We know it is going to be a message of mercy,” Bishop Mroziewski said. “I’m so happy for the expectation that comes from the young people.”
The bishop believes pilgrims’ expectations will be fulfilled during the catechesis and the visits to historical and religious places in Poland. At WYD, he added, pilgrims will “feel community, unity and love” as the foundation of the Church.
This WYD also coincides with the 1050th anniversary of Christianity in Poland, when Mieszko I was baptized in 966. Poland was unable to festively celebrate its 1000th anniversary because of the communist regime at the time. Pope Francis and pilgrims from around the world would observe this historic celebration.
During this time leading up to WYD, Bishop Mroziewski has been answering questions from pilgrims.
“They will be warmly welcomed to Krakow and to the other places they would visit,” he said. “I hope that they would feel like an important part of the Roman Catholic Church.”
The activities prepared for the diocesan contingent will help them to “feel themselves as Christians who are open for others.”
He himself is full of expectations for his first World Youth Day. He had prepared young people for prior WYDs as a priest in Poland and in the U.S., but never got to go himself.
“This year I will thank God for my service to the Diocese of Brooklyn and also for being a priest for 25 years,” he said.
Bishop Mroziewski is happy to see young people so enthusiastic about their faith. Quoting St. John Paul II and Pope Francis, he said now is time for people to open their hearts to Christ and to not be afraid for God is merciful.
“The popes are giving a vision of openness and forgiveness, a great message for all of us,” he said. “I hope the participation (in WYD) gives courage, charisma and peace to all of us.”