Pilgrims depart Warsaw with full hearts and even fuller stomachs

It was a bitter sweet Sunday afternoon on the 24 July as 78 pilgrims from Perth including Arcbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Bishop Donald Sproxton bid their farewells to the host parish and families whom they stayed with for four nights at Warsaw, Poland for the Days in the Diocese. This was the beginning of their journey to Krakow for World Youth Day.

The last day of a very busy yet educational and enjoyable schedule ended with a celebration of Eucharist by our Archbishop.

During his homily he thanked the parish community and the congregation for their hospitality even attempting to say ‘thank you’ in Polish.

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The Notre Dame Crew

He assured the community of Mother of Mercy Parish that his fellow clergies, the Western Australian pilgrims and himself will continue to pray and intercede for them.

“Pilgrims carry the people of the parish in your hearts, that the words of ‘Jesus I trust you’ can grow in the hearts of the community,” he said.

The preparation for the Days in the Diocese by the parish started a year ago with the recruitment of the volunteers and brainstorming of activities. But the real groundwork happened when the parish had confirmed that they would host a group of Western Australians.

Ania Norwicka, Coordinator of Days in the Diocese from Mother of Mercy Parish said, “The real work and  preparation started the day we were assigned groups for our parish.“

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Polish Dance Lessons

“I remember when I read the information about us hosting an Australian group, I was so excited and immediately forwarded it to the volunteers. We were all very happy to host such a big group from the other side of the world. But also a little bit scared,” she added.

The schedule varied from sightseeing of famous  Warsaw landmarks such as the Warsaw Uprising Museum, The Old Town and the Royal Castle. Plus, mass in both Polish and English, a polish dance lesson, a sports day and cleaning parts a cemetery as an act of mercy.

But for many of the pilgrims, their highlight was staying with their host families and hanging out with the young volunteers from the Parish.

Jonathan Kavanagh, a first time WYD pilgrim said, “My highlight was getting to know our host families and the loving volunteers. We really bonded like we’ve known each other for a very long time.”

“It was sad to leave because in such a short amount of time we got to know them really well. It was really difficult to say farewell,” he added.

The valuable lessons learnt, the relationships built and the exchange of mercy and love between pilgrims, families and the community is what Days in the Diocese was all about.

“It was an amazing experience, I didn’t expect for the pilgrimage so early on to have such a massive impact in my life,” said Jonathon.

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Jonathon and Ania

For Ania her experience of coordinating the Days in the Diocese in her parish was like an explosion of God’s love.

She said, “I was so blessed to meet all the pilgrims and get to know their stories. To hear that on the other side of world people also worship the same God and it’s truly inspiring.”

The five days spent in Warsaw was just a taste of what’s to come for when the pilgrims set foot in Krakow for World Youth Day. The experience has truly prepared them for the world youth week.

The experience has truly prepared them for the world youth week. They will depart Warsaw  and face Krakow spiritually and also physically nourished.

As Anita Parker, Pilgrim Coordinator said, “We will leave Warsaw with full hearts but more importantly with fuller stomachs.”

Days in the Dioceses are a time that pilgrims spend in selected dioceses of the country that organises the meeting of young people. For the pilgrims, the Days in the dioceses are an invitation to discover the richness of the Church and of the country that they visit, as well as to meet families and young people who want to receive them. For the hosts, it’s an opportunity to take part in the feast of faith and joy together with young people from all over the world. (Source: www.krakow2016.com)

Written by Vincent Haber