Fifty young people from a dozen parishes in the Diocese of Meath arrived in Poland as preparations are being finalised for the visit of Pope Francis this week.
The World Youth Day event, which takes place every three years, is an international gathering for young people of faith, likely to attract an attendance of over 1 million to the city of Krakow.
The group from the Diocese of Meath were welcomed to Poland by the local diocese, where they are staying with participants from France, Italy, Armenia, Ukraine and Venezuela. They have been involved in prayer services, concerts and put together drama on the life of Ireland’s patron saint, which they called “St Patrick the Musical”.
One of the most moving moments of the pilgrimage was a visit to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Cliodhna O’Connell (27), a primary school teacher from Glasson, Co. Westmeath said that “coming to a place with such a tragic history during a pilgrimage of prayer and reflection makes a deep and lasting impression. Faith looks differently when you see it through the eyes of suffering. In the same way, suffering looks differently through the eyes of faith”.
John Heffernan (23), a student from Mullingar, describes the pilgrimage as a “great experience of meeting new people, making new friends. It’s a bit like Euro 2016 with people dressed in their national colours, chanting, singing and dancing in the streets. We’re really looking forward to the arrival of Pope Francis on Thursday”.