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World Youth Day: Greetings from Kraków
Thanks to the support of a generous donor, four of our boys and girls attended World Youth Day in Poland. The trip is a wonderful opportunity for our young people to explore and celebrate their faith alongside young people from all over the world, as well as a chance to immerse themselves in Polish culture.
During the weeklong trip the kids participated in spiritual celebrations, saw local religious iconography, and so much more.
Thousands of World Youth Day participants, including our young people, visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum, located about an hour and a half from Kraków. The memorial set aside dates for exclusive tours by World Youth Day pilgrims who wished to reflect and pay their respects on the hallowed grounds where 1.1 million men, women, and children were murdered by the Nazis in WWII. Pope Francis himself visited Auschwitz on July 29.
Coworkers Marc Velasquez and Meg Prahin accompanied our boys and girls on their journey. Despite their busy travel schedule, Velasquez found time to send regular updates back Home. We will be running a recurring series featuring Velasquez’s dispatches; his first is below. Be sure to stay tuned for more news from Poland!
Monday, July 25, 2016
Day one of our Poland Journey went very well considering it involved quite a bit of sitting and waiting. We flew into Warsaw at 1:30 pm local time and it was very clear that Polish immigration was not prepared for the influx of World Youth Day participants.
Our plane arrived at the same time as a flight from Brazil, and there were only three passport windows open. It took us two hours to officially make it into Poland. That said, our young men and women handled the frustration very well; they made friends with a few other travelers, including a seminarian from Russia with whom they traded candy.
That’s him behind Maurice, [pictured above]. Kelli said he looked like Jesus. It also helped ease the frustration when the Brazilian delegation behind us began singing and dancing. That seems to be a universal truth of World Youth Day: there will be plenty of waiting, but there will also be plenty of singing and dancing and making the most out of our time together.
After making it through, we boarded buses for a 3 hour trip to Czestochowa to bring our intentions to the Black Madonna. Our Lady of Czestochowa holds a significance in Polish culture similar to the significance Our Lady of Guadalupe holds for Latinos. We spent time touring Czestochowa, and wrote our intentions to leave with Our Lady.
Finally, we made our way by bus to Krakow, where we ate a late dinner and checked into the hotel. The kids are learning about power converters and European plumbing first-hand this evening. That said, it is currently after 2:00 am Kraków time, and we have an early wake up and full day tomorrow.
Keep us all in your prayers, and we will keep you all in ours as we continue this journey!