FALL RIVER — Two groups of teens, young adults and adults from the Fall River Diocese will be among pilgrims from around the world traveling this month to Krakow, Poland, to participate in the international celebration of World Youth Day, from July 26-31.
Held usually every three years in different countries, World Youth Day is an opportunity for youth and young adults from around the globe to unite to celebrate and share their faith through a common experience of pilgrimage, prayer and worship. The schedule of activities includes catechetical sessions, liturgies, concerts, cultural events, and sight-seeing. The event culminates with an outdoor prayer vigil and closing Mass with Pope Francis in a field outside of Krakow.
Bishop Stang High School Theology teacher Marianne Deramo is leading a group of 19 students from the school between the ages of 16 to 18 along with five adult chaperones.
“I want students to have the opportunity to experience the universal Church,” Deramo explained.
A participant in two previous World Youth Days, she recalled their opening Masses as among her favorite memories.
“It was beautiful to see people from different countries, with very different cultural traditions coming together to celebrate the same Mass,” she said. “To see so many young people on fire with their faith and so joyful is something very powerful, as is being so close to the pope.”
As their departure date draws closer, she described the student travelers as “super excited.”
They have been meeting monthly since September to prepare spiritually for World Youth Day, reflecting on aspects of its theme of “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7), and also to get to know each other better.
A second group of 25 pilgrims from the diocese -mostly ages 18 and over and from the upper and mid-Cape areas and Wareham- is travelling with Father Ron P. Floyd, who is chaplain at St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis.
He too noted the value of witnessing the different traditions of the Church in other countries.
“I love the idea of young people seeing the faith lived out in other places,” he said. “Being with perhaps two million other young persons and observing how they practice their faith is exciting.”
Noting that pilgrimage is “a time-honored tradition of the Church,” he pointed out that it offers an opportunity “to get out of one’s rut, to put out into the deep.”
The World Youth Day catechetical sessions and liturgies will offer much for young pilgrims to reflect on, and Father Floyd shared that at the end the hope is that they will return home moved to live their lives in a more-faith-filled way.
Both groups have added on extra days to their itineraries to allow time for visiting sights in and around Warsaw and the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa before arriving in Krakow.
As of mid-July 40,000 Americans had registered for World Youth Day. Catholic News Service is reporting that in all some two million from 187 countries are expected to attend the closing vigil and Mass.
In collaboration with the Catholic Apostolic Center, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is making possible a variety of resources and digital platforms to facilitate information to those on the journey abroad and to provide access to a virtual pilgrimage for those unable to travel.