All roads lead to Krakow this week for the beginning of World Youth Day 2016. All of the Irish pilgrims have now departed for Krakow with 300 from Dublin, 100 from Limerick, 35 from Kerry, and 50 from Dromore departing on Monday. These pilgrims bring to 1600 the total number from Irish dioceses participating in the World Youth Day events.
The Irish WYD pilgrims and youth leaders will be joined at World Youth Day by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore, Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare & Leighlin, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford & Lismore and Bishop Donal Murray, Bishop Emeritus of Limerick.
The theme for WYD 2016 is “Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).
The opening ceremony for WYD takes place today, Tuesday 26 July. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, pilgrims will take part in catechesis sessions which will be led by bishops from around the world. A number of the Irish bishops will be part of the catechesis.
Pope Francis will arrive to Krakow on the afternoon of Wednesday 27 July . After the welcome ceremony he will transfer to the Castle of Wawel, where he will address the civil authorities and diplomatic corps, followed by a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic. The Pope’s first day in Poland will conclude with a meeting with bishops in Krakow Cathedral.
In the early morning of Thursday 28 July Pope Francis will visit the Convent of the Sisters of the Presentation on the way to the airport, and at 8.30am he will transfer by helicopter to Czestochowa where, in the monastery of Jasna Gora, he will pray in the chapel of the Black Virgin before celebrating Holy Mass in the Shrine of Czestochowa on the occasion of the 1,050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland. At 12.45pm he will return to Krakow where he will address the young people gathered in Jordan Park.
On Friday 29 July he will transfer by helicopter to Oswiecim. At 9.30am he will visit Auschwitz and at 10.30am the camp of Birkenau, returning to Krakow where at 4.30pm he will meet patients at the university paediatric hospital, and at 6.00pm he will preside at the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) with young people in Jordan Park.
On Saturday 30 July he will visit the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, where he will pass through the Door of Divine Mercy and confess several young people. At 10.30am, he will celebrate Holy Mass for Polish priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and seminarians in the St. John Paul II Shrine of Krakow. The Pope will lunch with several young people in the archiepiscopal residence and then in the evening will pass through the Holy Door in the Campus Misericordiae with various young people. There, at 7.30pm, he will give the opening address of the World Youth Day prayer vigil, which will continue through the night for the young people.
On Sunday 31 July, Francis will celebrate the closing Mass for World Youth Day in the Campus Misericordiae, where he will announce the venue for the next World Youth Day in three years time. After Mass, Pope Francis will greet the WYD volunteers, organising committee and benefactors in the Tauron Arena in Krakow. He will depart by air at 6.30pm, destined for Rome’s Ciampino airport.
World Youth Day organisers expect the 13th international WYD event to attract more than two million people from around the world. The World Youth Day festival will include exhibits, concerts, and exhibitions at more than 100 locations, as well as “wayside catechesis” sessions in 30 languages and a “reconciliation zone” with several hundred confessionals.
For more information on World Youth Day 2016, visit www.krakow2016.com/en/
Follow the progress of the Irish pilgrims using the hashtag #IrishAtWYD.