The contingent, called W4, visited various churches and learned about the universality of faith

W4 pilgrims pose for a group photo with pilgrims from Egypt, the US and South Africa alongside their hosts and pilgrimage coordinators from the Polish diocese of Rumia on July 24. W4 pilgrims pose for a group photo with pilgrims from Egypt, the US and South Africa alongside their hosts and pilgrimage coordinators from the Polish diocese of Rumia on July 24.

July 19
  • Arrived in Warsaw, Poland
  • Visited the St Maximilian Kolbe Shrine and Monastery in Niepokalanów
  • Visited Church of St Anne in Old Town, Warsaw
After checking in the hostel, we travelled to the St Maximilian Kolbe shrine.

It was beautiful and inspiring for me, personally, to revisit St Maximilian’s life. He is, after all, the patron saint of journalists, and I am one by profession.

LEFT: The pilgrims had the chance to see some artefacts from the life of St Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar, in a museum in Niepokalanów, Poland on July 19. He volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz during World War II. He is also known for his work in broadcast media and publishing. RIGHT: W4 pilgrims with Mr Peter, the caretaker of the Church of St Anne in Warsaw, on July 19. LEFT: The pilgrims had the chance to see some artefacts from the life of St Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar, in a museum in Niepokalanów, Poland on July 19. He volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz during World War II. He is also known for his work in broadcast media and publishing. RIGHT: W4 pilgrims with Mr Peter, the caretaker of the Church of St Anne in Warsaw, on July 19.

Heading back to Warsaw, we decided to explore the Old Town. We arrived at the Church of St Anne to discover that it had closed minutes earlier. Undaunted, Canossian Sr Doreen Soh ventured in via a side door and we chanced upon Peter, the caretaker of the church.

Despite being pressed for time, he brought us on a private tour of the church.

By Jeanette Tan

July 20
  • Visited the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Old Town, Warsaw
  • Visited the Jesuit Church of Our Lady of Graces in the Old Town
  • Celebrated our first Mass in Rumia
We woke up early and headed to the Old Town in Warsaw to visit two churches: the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, as well as the Jesuit Church of Our Lady of Graces next door.

It was very common to see people begging for money outside cathedrals, or along the streets.

Our first Mass in Rumia was held at the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, which is run by the Religious Society of Don Bosco (SDB).

By Jeanette Tan and Marissa Loo

July 21
  • Visited the Kashubian Museum in the village of Szymbark
  • Trekked the hill of Wieżyca
Today, we visited the open-air Kashubian Museum in the village of Szymbark.

The Kashubians are an ethnic minority, distinct from the Poles in both language and culture.

Our first stop was the Upside-down House.

The house was designed with furnishings from the 1970s when Poland was under communist rule. It makes a statement on wrongdoings against humanity and reflects life in communist Poland.

By Sr Doreen Soh and Joyce Ng

July 22
  • Had a tour of Gdansk
  • Visited the European Solidarity Centre
  • Visited Gdansk Oliwa Cathedral
We toured Gdansk, a bustling coastal city with modern buildings amongst historical architecture.

Our first port of call was the European Solidarity Centre. The industrial building holds a museum that commemorates the Polish civil movement in the 1980s against the bureaucracy and political repression of the
socialist-influenced Polish government.

Leaving Westerplatte, we arrived at Gdansk Oliwa Cathedral. Consecrated in 1594, the cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary and St
Bernard.

By Victor Chen

July 23
  • Joined a combined youth celebration at the square outside the European Solidarity Centre
  • Marched together towards a combined Mass at St Mary’s Church
  • Joined a youth festival at Plac Zebrań Ludowych

We had the first major gathering with all Gdańsk pilgrim groups in Place Solidaności, a plaza square outside the Solidarity Centre. His Excellency Sławoj Leszek Głódź and and the mayor Pawel Adamowicz warmly welcomed us to the diocese. We then started on a march to St Mary’s Church for Mass. With the march being called Saint’s March, we were told prior that we had to dress up in the outfits of different saints.

We witnessed a Sister make her final vows. After Mass, we spent the afternoon getting to know other pilgrims at a youth festival.
Ms Serene Koh (left) takes a wefie with her Polish homestay host in Rumia during the Days in the Diocese programme. Ms Serene Koh (left) takes a wefie with her Polish homestay host in Rumia during the Days in the Diocese programme. By Christophe Truong

July 24
  • Mass with Rumia congregation
  • Cooked Singapore meal for host family
  • Concert at the park with Rumia community
Spending time in Rumia with the parishioners, volunteers and Religious is one I will never forget. Everyone we met was warm and extremely hospitable, even if they had some difficulties speaking English and likewise for us with Polish. 

Each pilgrim group was asked to serve in different capacities at Mass, and we were encouraged to read or sing in our own native language.

With the usage of different languages at the liturgy, I felt a strong sense of appreciation and unity for Mass and the Catholic faith that I had never felt before.

By Serene Koh

July 25
  • Had Mass in the morning
  • Met the kids at the parish
  • Said goodbye to Rumia
We started the day with Mass. I felt sad knowing that this was going to be the last Mass that we would be attending in Rumia.

After Mass, we met a group of underprivileged kids who stay at the parish. The kids were so excited to meet us and we
gave them some Singapore souvenirs.

In appreciation of their hospitality, Sr Doreen and I set time aside on this day to cook for our host
family.

When the time came to bid farewell, I was filled with wonder and awe that, although I had only known them for a couple of days, they treated me as
family.

By Michelle Goh

July 26
  • Met our homestay hosts in Sanka, Krakow,
  • Attended WYD opening Mass in Blonia Park
At one point during the train ride to Krakow, I was looking out of the window as the train pulled into another station. I was very moved by a common sight I had taken for granted over the past few days – many Polish people working hard, to ensure that all the pilgrims were safe.

In the late afternoon, we made our way to Błonia Park for the opening Mass of WYD.

Some of the people in our group had previously been part of WYD five years ago in Madrid. During the opening Mass, we spotted one of our hosts from WYD Madrid as she walked past us during communion.

All three of us were filled with so much emotion when we met. With teary eyes we took a quick picture together and continued to focus on Mass.

By Joyce Ng

LEFT: The W4 contingent visited Auschwitz I (above) and Birkenau concentration camps on July 27 where more than a million prisoners died at the hands of the Nazis. RIGHT: A visit to St John Paul II sanctuary on July 28 gave the pilgrims a close look at the bloodstained cassock of St John Paul II during an assassination attempt in 1981.LEFT: The W4 contingent visited Auschwitz I (above) and Birkenau concentration camps on July 27 where more than a million prisoners died at the hands of the Nazis. RIGHT: A visit to St John Paul II sanctuary on July 28 gave the pilgrims a close look at the bloodstained cassock of St John Paul II during an assassination attempt in 1981.

July 27
  • Visited Auschwitz I and Birkenau, two Nazi concentration camps
  • Visited Wadowice, St John Paul II’s home town
  • Attended Mass at St Mary’s Basilica in Krakow
Being in the physical environment of Auschwitz-Birkenau brings to mind everything I have ever read, heard or watched about Nazism and Hitler.

The remnants of the barracks are neatly aligned and spread far out into the horizon. It was a solemn walk, to say the least.

The Holocaust is a reminder of how far man can fall and how history continues to replay itself
in different guises and magnitudes.

We headed on to Wadowice, better known as the birthplace of Pope St John Paul II. It is a cheery town; at the heart of it stands the saint’s family home, and the major Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where he was baptised.

By Marissa Loo

July 28
  • Made a Pilgrimage of Mercy to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy
  • Visited the St John Paul II Sanctuary
  • Joined in the welcoming ceremony of Pope Francis at Błonia Park
We visited the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. On the way up to the sanctuary, we learnt more about the Divine Mercy Chaplet, prayed it and reflected on what it means to be merciful.

Next up, we headed over to the nearby St John Paul II Sanctuary.

The land this centre stands on is the same site that Karol Wojtyła used to work during World War II as a factory worker.

In the sanctuary, we got a close up look at the bloodstained cassock that he wore during the assassination attempt in 1981.

Towards the evening, we made our way to Błonia Park for the welcoming ceremony of the Holy Father. Towards the end of the ceremony, Pope Francis drove past us! That moment of excitement combined with joy and peace is something that I’ll treasure for years to come!

By Yvonne Low

July 29
  • Had catechesis at Nawojowa Góra
  • Received the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St Mary’s Basilica in Kraków
  • Prayed the Way of the Cross at Błonia Park
We started the day with catechesis at Nawojowa Góra, a village church a few minutes’ drive from the place we stayed in. I think many of us that day heaved a sigh of relief at the opportunity to get away from the crowds in Krakow.

We were led to sit with pilgrims we did not know and were asked to share with each other our prayer intentions and then pray personally for each other. In an instant, strangers, some struggling through language barriers, turned into brothers and sisters.

After receiving the Sacrament of reconciliation at St Mary’s Basilica, we headed onwards to Błonia Park for the Way of the Cross.

By Judith Ho

LEFT: The contingent attended Mass at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow on July 28. RIGHT: The pilgrims travelling to Campus Misericordiae, where the overnight vigil of WYD was held.LEFT: The contingent attended Mass at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow on July 28. RIGHT: The pilgrims travelling to Campus Misericordiae, where the overnight vigil of WYD was held.

July 30
  • Visited the Church of St Bernadine and Wawel Cathedral
  • Made our 16-km pilgrimage to Campus Misericordiae
  • Participated in an overnight vigil
We started our journey by visiting the Church of St Bernadine in Krakow. The church houses the bone relics of St Szymona Lipnicy.

We started our pilgrim walk toward Campus Misericordiae, where we would be staying overnight for a vigil and final Mass with Pope Francis.

Throughout the walk, my one and only aim was to reach the destination, just like how I set my mind on Jesus Christ, knowing He will guide us no matter what hardship we experience.

By Christine Wong

July 31
  • WYD closing Mass with Pope Francis
  • Made a mad scramble to the airport to head home
July 31 marked the end of our overnight vigil at Campus Misericordiae and our WYD 2016 adventure.

I woke up with a tinge of sadness knowing that the adventures would all come to an end soon. WYD had been nothing short of amazing and I had lost count of the number of times I had felt overwhelmingly blessed.

Under the scorching heat, we attended the closing Mass for WYD. The truth is, save for rare moments, almost nothing about WYD was peaceful or stress-free. Instead, WYD was the hectic gathering of millions of young Catholic pilgrims who came with different perspectives and objectives and who were at different stages of their lives. It is in the chaos and jam-packed settings that we find who we are and admire the universality of our
faith.

By Valerie Goh

PHOTOS:  JEANETTE TAN, SERENE KOH, CHRISTINE WONG, VALERIE GOH AND SDM RUMIA ORGANISING COMITTEE


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