Final preparations are being made for 30 young people from the Archdiocese of Liverpool to travel to Krakow on Wednesday 20 July to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis and an expected two million Catholic young people from throughout the world. The group will fly out from Manchester Airport at 9am to begin their pilgrimage.
As they set off on their journey it will be the culmination of months of preparation and hard work, particularly fund-raising for the trip. Far from being a holiday or a summer camp, World Youth Day is an experience of faith and a sharing of cultures which can form, shape and transform lives. It is hard work for the young people, not least in the first half of the pilgrimage when they will be living and working with local families in the town of Jaworzno in the Polish Diocese of Sosnowiec, close to Krakow. They will be taking part in local Church and community activities during their stay.
Joseph Champion-Williams, 21, says: "The aspect I'm most looking forward to is being welcomed into the home of a very generous Catholic family. This is at the very core of the Gospel message: to open up ourselves with charity and love to our brothers and sisters, a love of sacrifice. I can't wait to share table, fellowship and faith, and truly experience a culture which has the Catholic faith at the centre of it."
From Monday 25 July, the pilgrims will be based in Krakow as the celebrations begin in the build-up to a Mass with Pope Francis on Sunday 31 July. During these days there will be teaching sessions overseen by Bishops from across the world. On the evening of Thursday 28 July there will be a welcome for Pope Francis as he arrives for the celebrations. On Friday evening Pope Francis will lead the young people in the Stations of the Cross when the World Youth Day Cross will be carried in procession through the city.
Emily Nevinson, 19, says: "I'm most looking forward to seeing how many young people are there and being a part of such a huge experience."
On Saturday 30 July, an all-night Vigil will take place before Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass of the pilgrimage on Sunday morning. The Liverpool pilgrims will arrive back in the United Kingdom on Wednesday 3 August.
The media team from the pilgrimage will be reporting throughout the World Youth Day celebrations and will be available for interview by prior arrangement.
The pilgrims can be followed on their journey through the Archdiocese of Liverpool website www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk and via the Animate Youth Ministries website www.animateyouth.org. Pictures will also be available on the Flickr site www.flickr.com/photos/liverpoolcatholic.