FORT WAYNE — It is with excitement that the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has announced a diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day Krakow in July 2016 with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. The diocese is working with Dube Travel on all arrangements including the pre-World Youth Day spiritual preparation with visits to Czestochowa, Auschwitz, Wadowice and Kalwaria. The diocese has reserved spots for 200 young pilgrims.
“WYD 2016 will be held in Krakow, Poland — the home of World Youth Day’s beloved founder, Pope John Paul II,” said Natalie Kohrman, who will coordinate the pilgrimage trip to Poland. “The theme (from Matthew 5:7) is ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.’”
Bishop Rhoades is inviting all young people who will be between the ages of 16 and 35 as of July 20, 2016, to consider attending as this will be an exciting time of grace for today’s Church, especially the young Catholics who hold John Paul II so dear.
“While in North America, we tend to think of youth as 18 and under,” Kohrman said, “the target age for World Youth Day is 16-35. For this reason, we hope that parishes will support young adults in their late teens, 20s and early 30s, who are called to Krakow. Parish groups can determine whether to allow 16-18 year-olds to travel with their group.”
The diocese has space for 200 pilgrims, so it is recommended to sign up as soon as possible.
Because of all that Poland has to offer, Kohrman said one can imagine how many Catholics from all over the world are going to want to travel to WYD. “Therefore, we got an early start and have reserved spots for 200 pilgrims with our travel agency,” she said. “They have been working hard to secure hotel rooms, transportation and everything else needed.”
Kohrman said, “While hotel and flight costs are still being negotiated, we have a reasonable estimate of $4,000 per person for the trip, including all transportation, lodging, WYD registration and many meals. This considerable investment will require great sacrifice for our young people, but will certainly be an experience that will impact them and bear great fruit for years to come.”
An initial deposit of $500 will be required in order to register and secure a spot in the diocesan delegation. WYD 2016 will not have a diocesan-wide fundraising event similar to the one held for WYD 2011 in Madrid. However, diocesan WYD staff will provide ideas and suggestions to those parishes interested in fundraising to cover the costs of WYD.
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend’s delegation to WYD 2016 will consist of 200 pilgrims including Bishop Rhoades, priests, religious, seminarians, diocesan WYD staff, young adult pilgrims, youth pilgrims and chaperones.
Youth pilgrims will travel in groups of 10-16 teens and be accompanied by two chaperones, who will be 25 years-old or older. In order to allow for better relationships between youth pilgrims and their chaperones, Kohrman said parishes participating in WYD 2016 will be responsible for recruiting their own chaperones.
“WYD 2016 will be an amazing pilgrimage,” Kohrman said. After departing from the diocese on Thursday, July 21, 2016, pilgrims will begin their pre-World Youth Day spiritual preparation in Warsaw, Poland.
While in Warsaw, pilgrims will tour the city’s Old Town and Market Square. They will participate in Masses at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. The latter houses the Shrine of Blessed Jerzy Popieluzko, who was martyred in 1984 for his opposition to communism. Next there will be an opportunity to visit Poland’s national shrine and pray before the miraculous Icon of the Black Madonna at Jasna Gora (Luminous Mount) Monastery in Czestochowa.
The next stop, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Kohrman said is sure to be an emotional, prayer-filled one as pilgrims will spend time on the grounds of the former concentration camp where St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and St. Maximililian Kolbe were martyred.
Then pilgrims will visit the birthplace of John Paul II, Wadowice, and the home of one of his favorite shrines to Our Lady, Kalwaria.
The pilgrimage will continue with six more days in Krakow — the final resting place of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska and, of course, the home of St. John Paul II.
Activities in Krakow will include a visit to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, the WYD opening Mass, catechetical sessions, daily Mass, Stations of the Cross and other WYD events.
Pope Francis will arrive on Thursday, but the culmination of WYD will be the vigil Mass with Pope Francis on Saturday evening. Following the closing Mass and farewell dinner on Sunday, pilgrims will journey home on Monday, Aug. 1.
The website — www.diocesefwsb.org/wyd — features an overview of the itinerary with pictures, a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, registration and payment information, and some interesting facts about Poland. Questions may be directed to Natalie Kohrman at firstname.lastname@example.org.