Pilgrims sporting ponchos the color of World Youth Day did not have their spirits dampened by rain July 26. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)
By Dennis Sadowski
KRAKOW, Poland — What’s a little summer downpour among friends?
Priscilla Ho and her friends from St. Francis Xavier Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, took an afternoon thundershower in stride as they made their way through Krakow’s Old City to the opening Mass for World Youth Day.
“It shouldn’t bother anybody,” she said near the city’s famed Planty, a park that encircles the Old City. “I’m here to get to know God a little better and be inspired by the city of Pope John Paul II.”
Seas of pilgrims in bright red, blue and yellow ponchos — the colors of World Youth Day — made their way through the city in waves toward Blonia Park for the opening Mass.
Doreen Kempf, 24 and her cousin, Chiara Titze, 17, both of Trier, Germany, stayed dry under red ponchos. “The rain doesn’t hurt,” Kempf said.
“The people are from different countries and we practice peace and we have the same belief in God and the same values. That’s all that matters,” she said.
Lucas Krobeth and a group of 13 of his friends from Klagenfurt, Austria, stood outside of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity as the last raindrops fell before walking to the Mass.
“I’m here because there are so many young people who pray and we will pray together,” he said. “We pray together and you see you are not alone praying to God.”
Pilgrims jammed buses and trams and joined special programs of music, faith-sharing and study in parks and squares across the city in the hours before the Mass. North of the central city, in Krowoderski Park, a group of about 100 young people from France listened to a midday concert of contemporary inspirational music. Nearby another 20 young people involved in the Global Catholic Climate Movement gathered for a prayer service to inaugurate the World Youth Day eco-village.
They planned to spend time gathering signatures on a petition — the same one endorsed by Pope Francis — asking world leaders to take immediate action on climate change and to protect the planet. Their goal is 1 million signatures; the GCCM reports about 900,000 names to date.
Allen Ottaro, 32, executive director of Catholic Youth Movement for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, said he wanted to bring the concerns expressed by St. John (Read More)