FORT WAYNE — During the summer of 2016, pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will be traveling to World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland, the home of St. John Paul II. The theme for WYD — “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” from Matthew’s Gospel — is fitting since Krakow is the final resting place of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska through whom Jesus made known His message of Divine Mercy.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades continues to invite all young people who will be between the ages of 16 and 35 as of July 21, 2016 — the date of departure — to consider joining the diocesan WYD delegation as it visits sites in Warsaw, Czestochowa, Auschwitz, Wadowice, Kalwaria and Krakow. The cost to attend is approximately $4,000 and includes all transportation, lodging, WYD registration and many meals.
A pilgrimage such as WYD is a spiritual journey that parallels a pilgrim’s journey toward his or her heavenly home. It is a time for pilgrims to leave their homes, families and comforts to visit a sacred place. WYD 2016 will be a time of reflection and sacrifice.
However, that sacrifice begins before boarding the plane as pilgrims save, earn and fundraise for the money to pay for WYD.
“This considerable investment will require great sacrifice for our young people, but will certainly be an experience that will impact them and bear great fruit for years to come,” noted Cindy Black, diocesan director of the Office of Adult Faith Formation, who has previously traveled to WYD with hundreds of teens and young adults.
Although pilgrims are expected to sacrifice financially in order to attend, it is not uncommon for parishes to assist them. According to Stacey Litchfield, youth minister at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne, “Our parish sees the importance of this opportunity for our youth. Many parents, teens and other volunteers have stepped up to the challenge and poured out countless hours to help with these efforts!”
St. Charles’ fundraisers so far have included two “Parents Night Out” evenings, a collection during coffee and doughnuts, a trivia night and a bake sale. Litchfield was particularly excited about a unique opportunity coming up in May.
“We are collaborating with the University of Saint Francis to volunteer behind the scenes for the Dorothy Day Conference. After we complete our tasks, the volunteers will hear Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, give his talk. In return, USF will be making a donation to our cause for WYD,” Litchfield said.
Because many parishes have support systems such as youth groups already in place for teens, young adults may be more likely to struggle with affording the cost of WYD.
Sean Allen, diocesan director of Young Adult Ministry, added, “The price of the WYD pilgrimage is often one of the biggest hurdles for young adults to overcome. The cost can appear out of reach.”
Allen encourages parishes not to forget that young adults between 18 and 35 are invited to WYD, and has put together a list of ideas specifically for young adults wanting to attend WYD and parishes that want to assist them. This list can be found under the “F.A.Q.” tab on the diocesan WYD website.
At the diocesan level, two different avenues of financial aid for pilgrims are available. The first is the “Take Me To World Youth Day” sweepstakes aimed at young adults. Starting on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12, and ending on June 12, young adults can go to www.TakeMeToWYD.com and enter a sweepstakes to win a free trip to WYD in Poland or one of two runner-up prizes for discounted pilgrimages.
In addition, The Our Sunday Visitor Institute has awarded the diocese a grant to cover the cost of 40 $1,000 scholarships for both teens and young adults wanting to attend the pilgrimage.
“OSV recognizes the potential effect that attending a pilgrimage like WYD can have on the faith of a young person,” said Aaron Seng, diocesan director of the Office of Youth Ministry. “This is not the first time OSV has provided the young people of our diocese with scholarship money for WYD and we are so grateful for their continued support.”
Those interested in learning more about the scholarship or to download an application can visit www.diocesefwsb.org/WYD. Scholarship applications are due by June 1, and award notification will occur in early July.
“We hope that both the sweepstakes and the scholarship will serve to encourage more young people in our diocese to consider attending WYD. We also want those who have already registered to know that both the sweepstakes and the scholarship are also open to them,” said Seng.
Questions regarding WYD 2016 can be directed to Natalie Kohrman at 260-399-1420 or [email protected].
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