The theme for the XXXI World Youth Day (WYD) to be held in Kraków, Poland, from 25 July to 1 August, 2016, is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
On behalf of Bishop Bill and our entire diocesan community, we are inviting people of all ages to experience an amazing journey of discovery and renewal by joining millions of pilgrims from across the world to participate in World Youth Day 2016. Our intergenerational pilgrimage will offer participants a chance to connect with the past and shape their future as they experience the profound and transformative power of pilgrimage.
Our intergenerational pilgrimage experience, "In the Footsteps of Saints", invites pilgrims to be renewed in faith by encountering the stories, spirit, teachings and home of some of the Church's greatest saints: St Francis and St Clare of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St Anthony of Padua and the patron of World Youth Day, St John Paul II, in whose home town we will be celebrating World Youth Day.
We will commence our journey in Venice with a welcome dinner. This night provides us with the chance to move from our everyday lives and begin our journey together, to stop thinking about ‘me’ as an individual and begin thinking about ‘us’ as a community. This is why we believe it is so important for our pilgrimage to be intergenerational; we can celebrate together, share our perspectives and learn from each other.
After experiencing Venice we will travel to Milan, Padua, Siena, Assisi and Casica and encounter the land, culture and history that inspired the saints. In Rome we will pray at the tomb of St John Paul II (‘JPII’) and complete our Mercy Pilgrimage by walking through the holy "Door of Mercy" in St Peter's Basilica, before flying to Poland for the WYD 2016 week.
In Poland we will visit sites such as the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (the Black Madonna), the concentration camp at Auschwitz where St Maximilian Kolbe was martyred, and Wadowice, the home town of ‘JPII’. In Kraków we will participate in the WYD experience, which includes a visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and the highlight, a closing Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. Our pilgrimage will conclude with a retreat experience in the Beskidy Mountains of Poland and a visit to Vienna from where we will return home.
Our belief is that by walking in the footsteps of saints whilst on pilgrimage, our way will be made clearer through seeing where other people of faith have walked before us, and how the example of the saints’ lives can lead us on our way, with hearts and minds transformed and renewed. The lessons we have learned will support us on our continuing pilgrimage to transform the future as members of the diocesan community of Maitland-Newcastle.