World Youth Day 2016- Our Reflections…..

Last July, 20 very courageous young people from across the Archdiocese chose to take part in a nine day diocesan pilgrimage to the World Youth Day Festival in Krakow, Poland with Fr. Shane Sullivan and Ms. Siobhan Bradley. As you will see from reading some of their reflections below – World Youth Day is a very unique experience that changes people for the better. Whether it was in the park, trains, buses or walking along the streets throughout Krakow, one could feel the joy and energy of millions of young people proudly carrying their flame of faith and who had a thirst for spirituality. Words seem so inadequate to describe the atmosphere which was buzzing with love, life, energy and excitement. Pope Francis himself remarked at how he had learnt many things in life but he wanted to share one thing.  “Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy with which so many young people live their lives. This is beautiful! And where does this beauty come from? When Jesus touches a young person’s heart, he or she becomes capable of truly great things”.  World Youth Day 2016 was truly a remarkable game changer in all our lives and I hope the reflections below offer you a glimpse of just what a unique stamp was left on all our hearts. 

 “So often during our 9 days in Krakow I found myself looking around in disbelief with a huge smile on my face. I probably looked a bit crazy but then, so did everyone else. All 2.5 million of us! We were all smiling the same. We were like each others reflection in the mirror. Each of us had some petition on our hearts going over. We, like the rest of world, were searching. Searching for a happiness and peace that is often hard to find in our busy lives. I believe we found it at World Youth Day.

When asked to summarise WYD I say ‘it was all go! Sightseeing, mass, workshops, reflection, friendships, little sleep, heat, colour, flags, laughter, banter, song and crowds! The crowds!’ But what really overwhelmed me was the sense of peace, joy and healing during the festival. We went to a healing night in the Touron Arena one evening which blew us all away. Our group bonded so much that night. You couldn’t but feel the love and presence of The Lord in the arena. Everybody was moved and changed in some way. It started a journey of healing for many. Now I see why Pope Francis chose to hold WYD in the City of the Saints in the Year of Mercy. What a blessing it was to have been there to celebrate being loved and having real freedom!

Deirdre Lawless (Knock)


The experience I had in World Youth Day in the Polish city of Krakow was amazing. Not only did spending ten days in this beautiful city gave me the adventure of a lifetime but it turned me to a different person – one that is more positive and full of life. The pilgrimage in Krakow, especially being in the company of Pope Francis, has inspired me to impact the lives of other people as this pilgrimage and His Holiness have impacted mine!

Karlo James Varilla – Tuam


To be honest this whole trip was like an act of God for me it was amazing. The friendships I have made within the group. My knowledge of my strengths and learning how far I can push my limits with God’s help has been amazing. I would do it all again in a heartbeat  – Sophie Nestor  – Tuam


Travelling to Kraków and experiencing World Youth Day with all the joy, fun and unpredictability it brings is hard to describe. There is something beautiful about hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world filling streets, squares and fields, separate and distinguishable only by the flags they bear but unmistakably united in One. From the incredible group I travelled with, to the great graces we received – unexpectedly coming within metres of Pope Francis early one morning, for example – I was really blessed to be in Poland- The theme of World Youth Day was ‘Mercy’, perfectly coinciding with the Year of Mercy as well as two of Poland’s great saints, St. Pope John Paul II and St. Faustina. August 1989 marked the fall of Communism in Poland. Who would have known that less than thirty years later 2.5 million young Catholics of different nations but one conviction would descend upon Kraków, joyfully welcomed by the people of Poland to celebrate and encounter Christ.  Cait De Freine – Balla


I am confident that I speak for all of us when I say that this was more than just a pilgrimage. Not alone did the event bring us closer to God, but closer to one another. It is no lie to say that my ten days in Poland were some of the most enjoyable of my entire life, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to have spent it with. – Shaun Grace, Milltown


World Youth Day 2016 was a pilgrimage that gave each one of the group a new experience of Jesus and of the family of the Church. The theme was “Blessed are the Merciful for they will receive mercy.” So, God’s personal, unconditional and inexhaustible love was something on everyone’s lips and something we all came to experience ourselves. We saw the Church as well as she is at her best: full of life and faith, universal and united in our love of Jesus. We saw, in other words, that the Church is beautiful!

World Youth Day also filled me with hope for the future. What a great group of young people came from the Archdiocese of Tuam. We asked a lot of them in the official pilgrimage events and extra moments of prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, Bible studies and investing in the group, and they rose to it! Seeing their dedication, their faith and their determination makes me confident that they will persevere following Jesus, even in a culture that makes that difficult in many ways. I draw strength for my own faith, having seen how God is working in them. (Fr. Shane Sullivan – Castlebar)





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