WYD Pilgrimage - 2016

1 August 2016 - An Extrordinary Journey of Mercy

As we end our time here in Poland and look back at the World Youth Day Week, all I can say is "What an extordianry experience of faith... What an amazing time of being with so many people from all around the world"!

On Saturday, we made the journey to the Saturday evening Vigil with more than 2 million others. Many would say that walking 10kms for the opportunity to sleep outside crammed into a small area with thousands of others is strange. I say it's not! It was a tough walk to the Vigil with the Pope and the final Mass - It was hot, there were thousands of people trying to do the same and sometimes the public transport wasn't as good as what it could have been.

But the Vigil and Mass resembles life in general. We struggle and work together to reach a goal and we can only really achieve it with the help of Christ. We were all working towards the same goal on Saturday: to gather as one to share Mass together.

Our small Bathurst group had Italians and Pols as our neighbors in a field of thousands, with only a small tarp size area for all of us to share amd sleep on. We had to work together and assist those around us. Like our Church must on a daily basis. 

The time with the Holy Father was unforgettable. We heard the call for us to be more than just the normal. We have to allow ourselves to not be desensitised and just look at computers and screens. We have to be alive.

After a long, tiring and hot walk back to our designated pick up point, which included two huge storms as we walked, we arrived at our bus to take us to Warsaw. We were all so happy to have a seat to sit on in the clean bus. It was as if our pilgrimage reminded us of the simple things in life and of the need to keep ourselves alert to the danger of over complicating our busy lives.

We are now in Warsaw in a nice motel room, recovering from the challenges we faced on our WYD pilgrimage. Each of us had different aspects to work through, different pains and hurts and not all of them were physical. But each one of us has achieved so much. We can leave Poland knowing that everyone one of us has done something extraordinary, something that enables us to really know how important our God is, who performs so many extraordinary acts of mercy everyday.

Our World Youth Day pilgrimage has been one of genuine grace. We have been shown the generosity of so many people and we have experienced the unlimited mercy of our loving Father.

Thank you Poland, it has been extraordinary.

Josh Clayton
Pilgrimmage Co-ordinator 

27 July 2016 - Welcom to Wadowice, the birthplace of St John Paul II 

We have entered a new stage of our journey and have now arrived in the city of mercy Krakow, Poland. We have been lucky enough to have our allocated accommodation located at Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II. Once again, we are being billeted in home stays for this week, where the generosity of our host families know no bounds. There is a Polish saying, "A guest is like God staying in your home", and we have been so blessed with all of the host families we have stayed with. It truly has been a most wonderful experience.
One of the most important aspects of WYD is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to the help of others. We have experienced that first hand during our time in Poland. Whether it was the help we needed if we were not feeling well, or the generosity of the our host famlilies sharing their homes with giving us somewhere to sleep, we have had to rely on the mercy of others throughout this pilgrimage and, as a result, we are closer to Christ! 
During our time in Wadowice, we will continue to pray for our diocese and all our loved ones. In the Bassillca in Wadowice, where St John Paul II was baptised and prayed, we are praying that we all may awaken our baptismal call, to be agents of mercy in our world. No matter what way and no matter what cost. We pray that we will be as generous with our lives as so many Polish people have been to us on this pilgrimage of Mercy in the footsteps of so many great saints of Poland and the world.


25 July 2016 - Goodbye Lodz, Hello Krakow!

As our WYD pilgrims ended a very busy week at the Paradise in the City festival in Lodz, they spent their final day taking in some of the sights of the city and sharing meals with their host families, to whom we are eternally grateful to for their hospitality. The host families made significant changes to their homes and everyday lives to accomodate and take great care of our pilgrims. We sincerely thank them.  

The final Paradise in the City Mass was held at the Atlas Arena celebrated by the Archbishop of Lodz.

The time in Lodz has been an enriching experienced for our pilgrims and an opportunity to reinvigorate their relations with other Christians and our work for unity.

Bishop Michael, Father Greg and the 16 pilgrims have now arrived in Krakow and ready to fully embrace the World Youth Day celebrations as the summit of the pilgrimage that begins tonight.


20 July 2016 - Paradise in the City - Lodz, Poland

Our pilgrimage of mercy has now moved to Poland and we have joined the festival 'paradise in the city' in Lodz, Poland.

Our festival begin with a celebration with pilgrims from more than 70 countries. This was a time of great celebration of cultures and a celebration of the mercy of Christ.

Our group is lucky enough to be hosted in the Parish if St Faustina in Lodz, where the generosity of the parish and the individual families is unlimited. All of the host families have changed their lives to ensure we are comfortable for which we are very grateful.

The festival continues with prayer and times of sharing, as well as input from many people on areas including sexuality, finding direction in life and a building a stronger relationship with Christ.

There is a sense of joy at the festival with so many nations and cultures present. It is a chance for us as pilgrims from the Diocese of Bathurst, to experience the universal Church. A Church that is young and full of the joy of knowing and loving Christ.

We are blessed to be together at this festival and we continue to experience the love and mercy of God.


18 July 2016 - Ciao from Rome!

The Diocese of Bathurst World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims have spent the past three days in Rome as part of our journey of mercy to WYD 2016 Krakow, Poland.  

As we conclude our time in Rome, we can reflect on how our experience has allowed us to encounter some of the most important places in the Christian faith. 

We have visited the tombs of Saint Peter and St Paul, the Basilica of John Lateran (the Pope's Cathedral) and the Holy Stairs.

These holy people of God said yes to Him in a very particular way. It's a bit like that for us as pilgrims. Our pilgrimage asks us to say yes to many experiences that may be difficult or outside our comfort zone.  

At the moment, each of us is experiencing a different pilgrimage. This includes fatigue, sore legs, missing family or friends or have questions opening up about their faith. Pilgrimage is about allowing ourselves to be away from the normal and be ready to feel new things that will change our perception on life and especially our relationship with God. 

On Sunday, we entered through the Holy Door at the St Peter’s Basilica for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. While surrounded by many other people, our Diocesan pilgrimage group remained together and prayerful during this special time. We sang and prayed as we approached the Holy Door, united and searching for the mercy offered by the Father. We prayed for ourselves, our family and friends, our parishes and our Diocesan community.

Afterwards, we attended Mass in the Basilica concelebrated by Bishop Michael McKenna, Father Grey Bellamy with other priests, bishops and cardinals from Rome and all around the world.

Having the opportunity to attend WYD in Krakow and visit Rome in this Year of Mercy is a great gift for each of us. We recognise that we all need to allow more mercy into our lives. Taking the physical steps towards the Basilica and entering through the Holy Door reminds us of the steps we need to take for the mercy of God to be part of each of our lives.

Our time in Rome has been about searching for the mercy that is offered by the Father and we saw it in the saints and the stories of Rome. But we also saw it in the relationships and the journey that each of us is experiencing individually. For each pilgrim, the Holy Door is a symbol of the journey that we are all on, with its pains, sorrows, joys and hopes.

We pray that the Father is ready to reach out to us where we are and as we continue our journey of mercy to Krakow. We hope to further experience the love and compassion of our God who is rich in mercy and compassion.

Josh Clayton
Pilgrimage Leader



14 July 2016 - And they're off!

Yesterday, 13 young people from the Diocese of Bathurst took flight as they began the first leg of their World Youth Day pilgrimage. They will eventually join the rest of the 2,500 strong Australian contingent in the City of Mercy - Krakow, Poland.

The group is first flying to Rome where they will meet up with with rest of the pilgrims - Bishop McKenna, Dong Van Nguyen and Father Greg Bellamy, who is currently studying in Sydney. 

Highlights for the group while in Rome will be celebrating Mass in the church of San Luigi de Francesi - where the famous Carvaggio paintings are displayed.

There will also be visits and Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and St. Paul's.

A special moment will be the pilgrimage together through the Holy Door, when they will pray particularly for the people of the Diocese of Bathurst.

The group will also pe privileged to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis before heading to Poland.

Regular updates will be available on this website and our Facebook page.

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