- Arrived in Warsaw, Poland
- Visited the St Maximilian Kolbe Shrine and Monastery in Niepokalanów
- Visited Church of St Anne in Old Town, Warsaw
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.
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
- 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
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
- Visited the Kashubian Museum in the village of Szymbark
- Trekked the hill of Wieżyca
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
- Had a tour of Gdansk
- Visited the European Solidarity Centre
- Visited Gdansk Oliwa Cathedral
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
By Victor Chen
- 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.
By Christophe Truong
- 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
- Had Mass in the morning
- Met the kids at the parish
- Said goodbye to 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
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
By Michelle Goh
- Met our homestay hosts in Sanka, Krakow,
- Attended WYD opening Mass in Blonia Park
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
- 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
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
- 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
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
- 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 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
- 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 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
- WYD closing Mass with Pope Francis
- Made a mad scramble to the airport to head home
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
By Valerie Goh
PHOTOS: JEANETTE TAN, SERENE KOH, CHRISTINE WONG, VALERIE GOH AND SDM RUMIA ORGANISING COMITTEE