For the first time since 2002, the Archdiocese of Seattle is sending official pilgrim groups to World Youth Day.
The event, which gathers young people together with the pope every few years, takes place this year in Krakow, Poland, from July 26-31.
Twenty-seven parishes from the Seattle Archdiocese will participate in archdiocesan World Youth Day activities, either traveling to Krakow or joining a local celebration at Camp Hamilton (see below), according to the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adult Evangelization.
“I think some people are especially excited because it’s St. John Paul II’s homeland and there’s also the Divine Mercy connection,” said Joy Galvez, youth ministry director for the archdiocese. (The Divine Mercy devotion has its roots in the visions of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who died in 1938.)
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain blessed local pilgrims June 4, during the World Youth Day Commissioning Mass at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. The young Catholics also had the chance to process through the cathedral’s Doors of Mercy that day. The archbishop encouraged the pilgrims to think beyond the events in Krakow, Galvez said.
“Archbishop Sartain was really challenging all to come back and continue to tell their stories,” Galvez said, “so that the spirit of World Youth Day didn’t end there [in Krakow].”
The archdiocese has two official groups headed to Krakow. The young adult group, ages 18-39, includes 25 pilgrims. The “youth and families” group consists of about 100 high schoolers (ages 15-18) plus their parents or other family members.
Many other groups from around the archdiocese will also be heading to Poland. Father Jack Shrum, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Renton, is organizing about 60 Catholics from several parishes. His group will join up with St. Joseph Parish in Lynden’s priest administrator, Father Jose Alvarez, and about 30 Spanish-speaking Catholics.
Parishes sending groups to Poland include Holy Redeemer in Vancouver; Mary, Queen of Peace in Sammamish; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bothell; and St. Paul Chong Hasang in Fife. In addition, Seattle University and the University of Washington’s Newman Center have groups traveling to World Youth Day.
Local pilgrims include five archdiocesan seminarians, four priests and two religious sisters. It’s an “incredible blessing” to have priests and religious along “as pilgrims living out their vocation,” said Michelle Fischer, OYYAE executive director.
While in Poland, local pilgrims will visit the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp and various sites in Krakow. They’ll also travel to Prague, Czech Republic. In preparation for the visit, some of them have made trips to the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle.
Pilgrims from the archdiocese will also participate in major World Youth Day events including Stations of the Cross and Mass with Pope Francis (see box).
Pope John Paul II started World Youth Day in 1985. It has been held in his homeland once before, in Czestochowa, Poland, in 1991.
Not going to Poland?
Local World Youth Day pilgrims wait outside St. James Cathedral June 4, ready to walk through the designated Doors of Mercy during this Year of Mercy. Photo: Courtesy Joy Galvez
Youth pilgrimage plans
A full itinerary is planned for the archdiocese’s youth and families group attending this year's World Youth Day. (The young adult group’s itinerary is similar but without a trip to Prague):
July 23 – Arrive in Prague, tour city, attend Mass.
July 24 – Retreat, sightseeing in Prague.
July 25 – Visit Auschwitz concentration camp, travel to Krakow.
July 26 – Tour Krakow, attend World Youth Day opening Mass.
July 27-29 – Catechesis sessions with bishops from around the world, evening cultural events, Pope Francis’ official welcome July 28, Stations of the Cross with the pope July 29.
July 30 – Mass with all U.S. pilgrims.
July 31 – Closing Mass with Pope Francis, farewell dinner.
Aug. 1 – Depart Krakow for Warsaw, stop for Mass in front of the “Black Madonna” of Czestochowa at Jasna Gora Monastery, tour Warsaw.
Aug. 2 – Depart Poland.