World Youth Day 2016

WYD Report: Opening Day with Slide Show

Photo (c) Catholic News Service
Photo (c) Catholic News Service

By Maria-Pia Negro Chin

KRAKOW, Poland – Despite the rain, most of the 600 young people from the Brooklyn Diocese contingent marched through the streets on their way to Blonia Park for the first official World Youth Day Event on July 26. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary to Pope John Paul II and now archbishop of Kraków, celebrated the opening Mass alongside bishops and priests from all over the world. Pilgrims from the Diocese of Brooklyn said the joy of the thousands of pilgrims from around the world was palpable.

“It’s pretty amazing just to be here for the first time with so many more blessings that I can bring back to my parish,” said pilgrim Jilenny Duran, 16, from St. Gerard Majella, Hollis.

Brandon Brown, 18, a pilgrim from Our Lady of Light parish, St. Albans, said that at first the idea of being surrounded by thousands of young people seemed a little intimidating but he enjoyed himself on the way to the Mass.

“It has been very extraordinary. A lot of walking,” he said. “I met new people, a lot of people. I had a great time at the first World Youth Day opening Mass.”

The Mass was mostly celebrated in Polish, with simultaneous English translation available for pilgrims with radios. Many of the Brooklyn pilgrims did not have the radios, which caused them to be even more attentive.

“Usually you know the Mass’ order but this Mass was much more special because you had to pay attention to the smallest details to see if you were able to understand,” said pilgrim Gislaine Garcia, 18, from St. Gerard Majella.

One moment of the Mass the pilgrims won’t forget is right after Communion when the sun opened up, said Deanna Braithwaite, 16, from Our Lady of Light.

Fellow pilgrim Chelsea Nakhid, 17, said that all the other people are welcoming here and even without knowing each other’s language, they gave each other high fives knowing that they have their faith in common.

“To realize that you are not alone in this Catholic faith to be with teens that are going through the same things that you are going through and they are here just to worship God that gives you so much empowerment,” Duran said. “It makes you feel that you belong.”

Duran added that her group was praying for the Diocese of Brooklyn and for the intentions of everyone back in Queens.

“This is home away from home and we can’t wait to come back and share how amazing this experience has been, even though it’s just the beginning,” she said.


Photos by The Tablet/ Maria-Pia Negro Chin and CNS/Bob Roller

See more World Youth Day 2016 coverage:

Being Close to Pope Is An Amazing Experience

Youth Views from World Youth Day Poland

WYD: Day 2, Catechesis (with Slideshow)

WYD Report: Mercy Center (with slideshow)

Next WYD Stop – Panama

Pope Urges Young People to Take Risks