The wonderful experience of WYD16 Krakow

'We will carry our experiences with us for a lifetime.'
Our Australian pilgrims were united with pilgrims from all over the world in Poland.

Source: Catholic Outlook, September 2016

By Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

As the print edition of this issue of Catholic Outlook goes to press, all eyes have been on the world’s best athletes in Rio de Janeiro. In the lead-up to the Olympics, we heard a lot about the logistical concerns for the host city and many queried whether the event would come off without a hitch.

As medals were won, personal goals achieved and true sportsmanship displayed, it didn’t matter if the games were perfect or not, as we celebrated and revelled in the joy of nations coming together in peace.

As with any large event, the logistics of organising large groups of people can lead many questioning if it is all worth it. Having just returned last month from World Youth Day (WYD) 2016 in Poland with 300 pilgrims from the Diocese of Parramatta, the experience is always worth it. We will carry our experiences with us for a lifetime.

In my conversations with young people throughout the journey, what really resonated with so many of them is the wonderful sense of belonging to the global Church; being able to come together to celebrate their faith among so many diverse cultures.

A sense of belonging is a core aspect of our Catholic community and is a foundation for everything we do in our schools. As the Diocese works towards a new RE curriculum, the connections between home, school, local and global communities will continue to be strengthened as we continue towards providing a Catholic schooling experience for students that inspires them to be agents for change in the world.

As Pope Francis said in his address at the WYD prayer vigil: “We have come here from different parts of the world, from different continents, countries, languages, cultures and peoples … Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer. In all the settings in which you find yourselves, God’s love invites you bring the Good News, making of your own lives a gift to him and to others. Jesus is inviting you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own and that of many others as well.”

I thank all those involved in the planning and preparations for WYD16 and a special thanks to our chaplains who invited us each day to celebrate the Good News and united us each day in prayer.

Follow Greg on Twitter @gregwhitby and


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