Polish pilgramage leaves memories
Rev. Jeremy Hazuka, Morse Bluff St. George and Sacred Heart
I had the privilege of joining a group of 98 pilgrims from the Diocese of Lincoln who attended World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, this past summer (with a quick trip to the Czech Republic). Also joining this group was Sam Wesely of Sacred Heart Parish. There is so much to say about the 19-day pilgrimage – the churches, the history, the culture, the food, the Pope! If you give me the chance, I can share with you an extended version of the two-hour presentation that Sam and I gave to our parishioners. However, these were some of the highlights of the pilgrimage:
•A day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau: After seeing two of the three Auschwitz complexes, where 1.6 million people were murdered by the Nazis, the most moving part of the visit came as we were walking the final stretch around the compound…seeing pictures of the victims of the holocaust.
• An inspiring homily of Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Legnica, Poland, on the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene: He spoke to the youth as a father who cared for his children. He spoke about Mary Magdalene’s humility, flowing from her repentance, that prepared her to give love to and to receive love from the Lord.
• Our last evening in the city of Legnica, Poland, spent with the host family that lodged and fed four of us priests for a week: We ended our stay with lots of food (and a variety of vodkas). I played some American oldies on my little travel guitar, and they sang some of their Polish favorites. We sang together one of Pope John Paul II’s favorite hymns (together, in Polish and English): “Barka” – “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore” – it was very moving. (I was all “Na Zdrowie-ed” out by the end of the night!)
• The Stations of the Cross based on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy: While the celebration itself of the Stations at World Youth Day offered inspiring moments, I thought the actual text for this “walk” with Pope Francis through the Passion of Christ offered a profound meditation on the cross of Christ and our call to acts of mercy. I hope to use this version of the Stations at some point this coming Lent.
• The Papal Vigil and Mass: We walked over nine miles from Old Town Krakow to “Campus Misericordiae,” where two million men and women gathered for a prayer vigil with Pope Francis, the world’s largest Catholic “slumber party” (with lots of singing, praise and worship, and all-night adoration), and then morning Mass in a large open field. Pope Francis’ offered to our young people reminders that “the times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’, but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced” and that Jesus “demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.’” This vigil and Mass is the culminating event of every World Youth Day.
• Two extended times for quiet prayer while in Prague: After fifteen days of a lot of activity, I was blessed to spend some time sitting in the Churches of Saint Havel and Saint Wenceslaus, praying about what I had just experienced.
<<Back to the front page