Bishop Robert McElroy is leading a delegation of around 150 young Catholics, priests and chaperones from the San Diego Diocese who are in Krakow, Poland, through July 31 for World Youth Day. An estimated 2 million young pilgrims from 187 countries are attending the triennial conference. The bishop shared the group’s activities on July 26.
KRAKOW, Poland – In the afternoon I celebrated Mass with 150 teenagers and young adults from the Diocese of San Diego. It was a moment of great faith and joy. The young pilgrims shared their greatest experiences of God’ grace on this trip:
- A young woman had not been to confession for many years, and with much trepidation she entered the confessional in the Krakow cathedral, presented her sins and received forgiveness with a rush of grace that ran through her soul. Only afterward did she learn that this particular confessional was the one that Saint John Paul Il used regularly to hear confessions when he was a priest and bishop here.
- The young woman who encountered the ultimate face of evil in her visit to the death camp at Auschwitz, and ultimately found hope in a Jewish prayer etched on the wall there;
- The young man who described the sense of oneness with millions of pilgrims from every land and race and way of life who have journeyed to Poland to encounter God and witness the face of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit;
- The elderly chaperone who wept as she described the depth of faith of the young people in her group and her happiness in finding a home decades ago in the Catholic Church.
After the Mass, a group of pilgrims from San Marcos and Oceanside performed the San Diego World Youth Day dance and anthem that they had created.
In the evening, a dozen teenagers and young adults from San Diego spoke to a gathering of 20,000 American pilgrims, telling how they were caught in the lockdown and trauma of the Munich shooting, and yet continued on their pilgrimage to Krakow in unity, faith and in prayer. They led all the American pilgrims with hundreds of American flags waving in the auditorium, in prayer for our nation, the victims of the violence around us, and for the renewal of faith and hope in our world.
At tonight’s prayer service, the Gospel spoke of the Transfiguration. In today’s events the grace of God and the faith, joy and energy of the young have pointed overwhelmingly to the transfiguring power of the Lord in our midst.