Lesia's Experiences at World Youth Day
My Pilgrimage with the Canadian Ukrainian Catholic Pilgrims | PART 2: POLAND
By Lesia Kinach
After several days in Ukraine, we travelled to Poland for the second part of our pilgrimage. There we met up with a group of Chaldean Catholics from Saskatoon. They are also Eastern Rite Catholics, and they speak a language called Aramaic – the language that Jesus spoke! When we prayed the rosary together as a group, we would switch between English, Ukrainian and Aramaic. I really loved listening to them pray the Hail Mary… they don’t just say it, they sing it, and it sounds so beautiful!
So, what brought us all to Poland? This past July, the city of Krakow hosted World Youth Day (WYD), a week-long event where young Catholics from every continent gather to grow in faith and fellowship. The Pope also attends to speak to and pray with the youth, making it a very special experience.
This was my first WYD, and it was… absolutely unreal! Over 2 MILLION pilgrims filled the streets of Krakow that week, bringing the city to life. Everywhere you looked, there were groups of people singing, chanting, and waving their national flags proudly. More than once we sang “Salve Regina” on the city trams, or listened as other pilgrims sang hymns in their own language. It was simply wondrous to see people from different cultural, linguistic, and racial backgrounds all united by our faith in Jesus Christ.
If I had to pick one experience from WYD that moved me the most, it would be listening to the Pope’s talk at the Saturday night vigil (the last night before the conclusion of WYD). He spoke in Italian, so I listened to the English translation that was broadcast over the radio. Pope Francis spoke of how “Jesus is the Lord of risk, not comfort, security or convenience” and called on youth to be proactive, to put on our shoes – or better yet, soccer cleats – and get out and leave our mark in the world. I will never forget his inspiring words: “Our times do not need any more young people who are couch potatoes.”
For me personally, more than anything this experience was about finding fellowship. I think I was the only one in our group who did not know anyone else before starting the pilgrimage. I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to befriend other young, Canadian Ukrainian Catholics and grow in faith with them. I start my Master’s program at the University of Guelph in September, and I look forward to continuing on my path of spiritual growth and discernment with the Catholic community there.
Our group – Ukrainians and Chaldeans – in front of the John Paul II Centre
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