RAY COLLINS: World Youth Day Pilgrimage Update - 1 August

One of my lasting memories of the 2008 World Youth Day was the sense of joy that existed both in our diocese and in Sydney during the week long celebrations there. I distinctly recall two runners on their lunchtime jog through Hyde Park commenting on the atmosphere created by the "invasion" of hundreds of thousands of young people from across the world.

"It's different isn't it?" said one jogger whilst his running mate responded, "Yes, there is a sense of joy everywhere."

This joyful air has been evident in Kraków, Poland as approximately 2.5 million young Catholics gathered in the home town of Pope St John-Paul II for World Youth Day 2016.

This has been evident at all the WYD events and at our accommodation where there are a number of dioceses from around the world staying.

However, one place where it has been particularly evident is on the public transport where pilgrims mix with locals as the pilgrims are transported to various WYD sites.

The singing of the various nationalities has brought forth rather quizzical expressions from the locals, with some rather non-plussed by the cacophony of noise created whilst others enjoying the experience.

One woman, on a bus, was asked, "How do you feel about World Youth Day?" The broad smile on her face as she answered, "You have brought great joy to our city!" said it all.

The bringing together of millions of young people from across the world in a celebration of faith, hope and love where these values permeate a whole city and country is something to behold.

It is a real privilege to witness so much good and so much lack of negative values in the young people of our world.

This has been affirmed by Pope Francis in the many addresses he has made to the young people of the world, encouraging them to be positive, forward thinking young people who bring to their lives a great commitment to extending and experiencing the mercy that Jesus demonstrated during his life on earth.

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Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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