Over 300 young Dublin Pilgrims are leaving Dublin Airport today to attend the biggest Catholic Youth Festival in the world with Pope Francis.
World Youth Day begins in Krakow in Poland tomorrow. Pope Francis will attend on Thursday and the event finishes with a huge open air Mass on Sunday.
It will be the largest largest meeting of people in Polish history with up to 2 million pilgrims due to take part – 1600 will travel from Catholic Dioceses from all over Ireland.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is leading the Dublin group and is one of 10 Irish Bishops traveling to World Youth Day (WYD). The young Dublin pilgrims have been nominated to take part from over 70 different parishes and secondary schools from around the Archdiocese of Dublin. Each of them has participated in a programme of preparation, involving prayer, spiritual reflection and practical training, including Safeguarding, over the past year.
The Dublin group is staying in the parish of Kazimierza in Krakow. On Wednesday evening all Irish pilgrims will join the young people from Dublin and their Polish hosts in a special evening of prayer, music and reflection. Archbishop Martin, Bishop Donal Mc Keown (Derry) Bishop Brendan Leahy (Limerick) are among a group of Bishops from around the world who have been invited to lead Catechesis (teaching sessions) with international pilgrims during WYD.
Pope Francis will arrive at World Youth Day events in Krakow on Thursday via an environmentally friendly city tram! In what is likely to be one of the most poignant events of his visit to Poland, he will meet 10 Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz on Friday (July 29). He is also due to visit a shrine to St. John Paul II built on site where JP2 had worked in the Solvay chemical factory. It Saint John Paul II who initiated World Youth Day in the Church – it is now in its 31st year.
In a message to all those taking part for 2016, Pope Francis said, “I am very anxious to meet you and to offer the world a new sign of harmony, a mosaic of different faces, from many races, languages, peoples and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy. “
One of the highlights of the Pilgrimage takes place on the Saturday evening before the final Mass with Pope Francis on Sunday. Through the night, pilgrims will sleep under the stars with over a million others at Campus Misericordiae. They will worship in prayer, dance, and song, and artists known in Poland and around the world will participate.
50 volunteer leaders will travel with the Dublin group – all leaders took part the Anchor programme – a new foundational leadership programme for the Archdiocese focusing on leadership, discipleship and pilgrimage. It is hoped that those who took part will bring what they have learned at WYD and in the months of planning back to their individual parishes in Dublin in working with young people in the years ahead.