Travelers from the Diocese of Charleston arrived in Poland on July 21 for the sightseeing portion of their World Youth Day pilgrimage.
A total of 34 youth and adults made the trip, including Oratorian Father Paul Nguyen and seminarians Patrick Judd and Rhett Williams.
Upon their arrival, the group went to their first Mass at All Saints Church in Warsaw, celebrated by Father Nguyen. Judd served and Williams took the role as lector.
“It was a great way to give thanks for safe travels across the Atlantic,” Williams said.
Over the next several days, the pilgrims will tour some of the most historic landmarks of Poland and attend Mass at well-known churches, including the new Pope John Paul II Center.
The travelers will be busy, but are looking forward to the opening ceremony on July 26 for World Youth Day, which runs through July 31 and includes what will probably be a highlight of the trip: a candlelight vigil with the Holy Father and hundreds of thousands of fellow pilgrims from around the world.
More than 40,000 Americans are registered for the event, making it the third largest number of participants from the United States, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Most of the participants are young adults, ages 18-30. Also, 85 U.S. bishops are registered, which is the largest number of bishops attending a World Youth Day celebration outside of North America.
The celebration marks the 30th anniversary of when St. John Paul II, the former archbishop of Krakow, invited bishops all over the world to hold an annual event for youth in their dioceses.
In a video message, Pope Francis blessed young people traveling to Krakow and said he is “praying that it will be a pilgrimage of faith and fraternity.”
People are encouraged to pray for the pilgrims during their travels. Visit http://worldyouthday.com for the official prayer and other information.
The Catholic Miscellany/Courtesy of Rhett Williams: Some of the pilgrims from the Diocese of Charleston gather in front of All Saints Church in Warsaw after their first Mass, where they were greeted and joined by a delegation from Kuwait, all in green shirts, and a few pilgrims from Ecuador as well.