World Youth Day Krakow was an unforgettable and life changing experience. Yet, for me it was only fairly recently that I properly discovered anything about World Youth Day. I had not been to a WYD before Krakow, though I had kept an eye on WYD in Rio 2013. I was watching some coverage and it just looked incredible, to see an unbelievable number of young people gathered together for Christ, kneeling in prayer and a great buzz of excitement and joy. I had heard stories of young people just going for a holiday but coming back ablaze with the Holy Spirit. I was very lucky and very grateful to be given the opportunity to go and meet some truly interesting and inspiring young people.
There we many great moments from dancing in the rain before the opening mass in Błonia Park with hundreds of thousands of young people to camping out for the vigil with a candle lit adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Campus Misericordiae. Celebrating Mass the next morning, with nearly 2 to 3 million people (unfathomable numbers) was most definitely a highlight. But I would say the highlight for me was actually at Tauron Area (the Mercy Centre) where we had an evening with LifeTeen at the XLT event including adoration with Bishop Barron. An unforgettable atmosphere, 20,000 people knelling, singing and loving God. Bishop Barron gave a powerful sermon about the cross, he said afterwards that praying with us that night was the highlight of his priesthood.
There are two other moments that I really enjoyed that were not official events of WYD. The first was Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a beautiful Church with an incredible acoustic where it was just us from NYMO; I felt we shared an authentic sense of communion. The second was the vocations night where we received real genuine stories and great advice on discernment, plus, and most surprisingly for me, a powerful and emotional time of prayer.
I highly recommend going! To those who go in the future: be prepared to be changed by this experience, change is not a bad thing; have patience when things get tough; you’re going to make loads of new friends; and know that God is waiting to fill you with the power of His grace and and He WILL reveal himself to you.