With a new year under way we might still be thinking of new things to do and new experiences to share in the next 12 months. If this is you, or you know a child or grandchild who is seeking such new experiences, then maybe one of these options could be for you?
World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland
As a young person myself, many years ago, I remember going on World Youth Day pilgrimages. World Youth Day is a bit of a misnomer as the pilgrimage is really a two-week festival of faith. Every few years the Holy Father calls young people from around the world to gather in one city to share their faith with each other. At the last WYD in Rio de Janeiro there were four million young people assembled in the city and the expectation is there will be two million in Krakow in July.
In the first week pilgrims spend time living with families and sharing the lives of parishioners in the host country and experiencing the faith of that country as lived by everyday Catholics. In the second week all those pilgrims make their way to the host city and have times of catechesis and liturgies, at which the Pope presides on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I especially remember the slightly overwhelming feeling of being caught in the sea of humanity that was WYD Rome 2000. Coming from a small town in the Archdiocese, my eyes were opened to what it meant to be part of a universal Church. I met new people and formed friendships that continue to this day. As I look back on my own journey of faith I think those pilgrimages as a young person helped form me, and certainly were a significant milestone in my priestly discernment.
I am convinced that without those early experiences of pilgrimage my life would have taken a slightly different turn, and so I thank God for the support I was offered as a young person that allowed me to see the many facets of our faith. Therefore, based on my own personal experience, I know that participating in pilgrimages such as World Youth Day can be crucial in the faith development of a young person.
The dates of the 2016 pilgrimage are 20 July–3 August. The total cost is £1,200, and though this is a lot of money I am sure parishes and pastoral areas will assist young people who might like to travel. Pilgrims must be aged 18 or older at the time of the pilgrimage.
Becoming a member of the Animate team involves a somewhat longer commitment on the part of a young person, yet is a potentially life-giving decision. As regular readers of this page will know, Animate works with thousands of young people every year but to enable that work to continue it is necessary to have a committed team of young people willing to share their lives with each other in community and share their faith with the young people of the Archdiocese through the work that we do.
If you are in your last year at college or university or are under the age of 25 and fancy a change of scenery from your current role, then why not get in touch and find out what being a team member entails?
• If you would like more information about either of these opportunities please contact, with no obligation, Father Simon Gore on 01744 740467 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.