While many teens are busy planning the next road trip with their friends to Panama City Beach or Daytona for the summer, three young ladies from St. Joseph Parish in Norris are planning for a pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland, in July.
Rebecca McDonald-Harber, 19, Paley Perry, 17, and Sloan Perry, 16. have been diligently fundraising in hopes of having the honor and privilege of attending World Youth Day (WYD) 2016. The cost of the trip will be around $4,000 each, plus spending money, but the girls feel that the spiritual journey, fellowship, friendship, and cultural experiences will be priceless.
The last World Youth Day assembled in Poland was in 1991 and was the first one held in a European country that had recently been freed from Communism. The concept and tradition of World Youth Day began in the 1980s with St. John Paul II’s opening of the youth center of San Lorenzo at the Vatican. Known for his universal appeal to youth, John Paul’s challenge of “Dear young people, let yourselves be taken over by the light of Christ and spread that light wherever you are” (Toronto WYD, 2002) is continuing, more than 30 years later, with this year’s pilgrimage to his homeland.
The theme for this year’s WYD comes from the fi fth Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). As of September 2015, there were more than 300,000 registered participants for WYD Krakow 2016. Organizers estimate that by the last day of the pilgrimage and the fi nal Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, there will be more than 1 million participants.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ challenge to, “Carry with you the flame of Christ’s merciful love – as St. John Paul II said – in every sphere of your daily life and to the very ends of the earth,” the three young ladies from St. Joseph continue to make crafts, sell baked goods, and gather items and donations for an upcoming auction at the church to raise funds for this life-changing pilgrimage. For more information about this experience or to donate to the cause, contact Deacon Dan Hosford or Angie Harber at 865-494-7746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Dear Young Friends, we have made an appointment to meet at the next World Youth Day in 2016 in Krakow, Poland. Through the intercession of Our Lady, we pray to the Holy Spirit to light our way, which will lead us toward this new stage of joyful celebration of faith and love of Jesus.”—Pope Francis to the youth at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ■