Less than three weeks before World Youth Day, organizers from the U.S. delegation going to Krakow, Poland, provided updates on the XXXI World Youth Day.
In the July 7 news conference, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., the U.S. Bishop’s episcopal liaison for World Youth Day (WYD) said that so far, there have been 30,000 fully registered U.S. pilgrims – including 85 bishops – and another 10,000 partially registered pilgrims still in need to finish the process.
The bishop added this is the most pilgrims attending and the largest number of bishops attending a WYD outside of North America. They will join about 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world.
In response to journalists’ questions on safety while traveling in Europe, the bishop advised prudence and common sense, but pointed out that “there is no evidence of a credible threat” to the safety of the youth.
Paul Jarzembowski, World Youth Day USA national coordinator, emphasized that his office has been working with the U.S. and Polish governments to ensure pilgrims’ safety. He also encourage pilgrims to check the WYD safety resources available at the State Department website and wydusa.org, including a webinar addressing safety concerns.
Paul Morisi, the coordinator of adolescent and young adult faith formation for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the conference reassured the group of the safety. The Diocese of Brooklyn is traveling to Poland with nearly 400 young people.
Organizers offered other reminders for pilgrims, which included to tell their banks that they will be abroad, take enough medications with them, rest before the trip and stay hydrated in Poland.
Spiritually, pilgrims can prepare with quiet prayer and asking the Holy Spirit for the necessary graces to be pre-disposed and open to this encounter with Christ. Bishop Caggiano added that to be surprised by God’s grace one needs to ask, “What is it that I’m seeking from the Lord this day.”
Jarzembowski explained the events lineup, which in addition to the main Mass will include presentations by bishops in different churches and plazas and afternoon international festival of prayer, vocation and music.
Catechesis will also be given by U.S. bishops, including Cardinals Timothy Dolan and Sean O’Malley; Archbishops Samuel Aquila, Charles Chaput, Blase Cupich, Edward Kurtz, Thomas Wenski; and Bishops Robert Barron, Edward Burns, Richard Malone and Caggiano.
The Knights of Columbus will have cultural programming for Polish Americans to reconnect with their roots, Jarzembowski added.
During the pilgrimage, U.S. pilgrims can meet each other at an evening prayer service and a July 30 morning Mass before making the walking pilgrimage to site of the WYD’s closing Mass.
The trek to this site, called Mercy Field, will involve nine miles to the vigil site from the farthest point and nine miles back. Tauron Arena, where many WYD events will take place, is seven miles from the field. The pilgrims will have an overnight vigil before the closing Mass with Pope Francis on July 31.
Bishop Caggiano added that the extensive walk could also help the pilgrim’s spiritual disposition because it is a chance to spend a long time with the Lord alongside other pilgrims.
“The pilgrimage to the campsite is very important,” Morisi said. “It’s not only a time to share fellowship with fellow group members, but also to reflect over the events of the previous three days and how it will prepare us for the vigil and closing Mass.”
Matt Palmer, social media specialist from the USCCB Office of Public Affairs, said that young adults and Catholics of all ages could follow WYD Krakow through different social media. The resources available will include a 360-degree video of different events that will bring the digital pilgrim to the action. These tools would enable the international communication started during WYD to continue months later.
Jarzembowski encouraged young people staying home to “carve out time” to follow along digitally or to go to local events, such as diocesan gatherings in places like Connecticut, Detroit, Texas, Washington and at local parishes.
“This year in the Jubilee of Mercy the message is simple: none is excluded from the pilgrimage,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Everyone is a pilgrim. Every young person and young adult can be part of this great spiritual outpouring of grace – whether they can join to Krakow or home.”
Find Out More
To read more about WYD, go to usccb.org/about/world-youth-day or follow the WYD Pilgrims on social media using Hashtags: #WYDUSA, #Krakow2016 and #WYDOB