Now that the young people from St Clare's have returned from World Youth Day in Poland, they share their thoughts and feelings.
Click below to read each reflection
NishaWorld Youth Day has been an incredible experience so far. It is amazing to see millions of young Catholics all gathered together in the name of Jesus. It makes me feel so happy and proud to be a Catholic.
OliverI have really enjoyed being a part of such a huge event. It is nice to feel a part of a larger Catholic family.
This pilgrimage has been an amazing experience in my Catholic life. I have really enjoyed meeting and spending time with pilgrims from other countries. It showed me how powerful the Word of God is. I most enjoyed sharing my faith with people all over the world. This was my first WYD but definitely not the last one, I'm starting to save-up now. I am grateful to the generosity of the people who made it possible. Hope to see you in 2019 in Panama
Ellie JordanMy experience of World Youth Day has been incredible; I have met so many friendly people from other countries. It's amazing to see how many young Catholics there actually are around the world and it has been nice to share this with millions of people from almost two hundred countries. The atmosphere has been fantastic with everyone cheering and praising God. It was nice to see the Pope in real life and listen to him preach. This experience has made my faith stronger, I'm so glad that I decided to come to Poland and I'm grateful to those who made it possible. I would love to go to the next one in Panama.
Despite being raised as a Catholic all my life in recent years I have faced many challenges which have made me question my faith. I have been on a few religious trips but I saw world youth day 2016 as an opportunity to reconnect with the Catholic world, whilst in Kraków I have had many amazing experiences including seeing the pope speak on several occasions and seeing the birth place of Saint John Paul II which I would not have been able to do without coming on this pilgrimage. Coming on this pilgrimage has really reopened my eyes my faith and I have found being in such large crowds surrounded by young people of the same faith really spiritually enlightening. Everyone has been on the journey together and have all been so friendly and welcoming towards everyone. This experience has been truly amazing and I am very grateful to have had the chance to be a part of it.
Like many who are born and raised in a religious family, I had little choice of my belief as a child, but simply followed the rules and sacraments. In my early teenage years I'd attended small scale international events which reaffirmed my personal choice to be a young Catholic. However in an ever changing world where questions of science, ethics and evil have led many of my friends to recently walk away from the Church, I believed I was part of the increasingly smaller group of young people who follow the Catholic faith.
That was until I took part in a pilgrimage to Krakow's World Youth Day in July 2016.
It was while on our pilgrimage to World Youth Day where I really came to understand that there was no such small group. Not tens, not hundreds, not thousands or hundreds of thousands. It was millions of people who gathered in Kraków to celebrate the Youth of the Catholic Church. The height of this realisation has to be our walk to Campus Misericordiae (The Field of Mercy). A multi-coloured sea of flags lined the sky as a mass of people swarmed the streets which lead to the campsite. Hundreds of countries were represented, from the obvious Catholic countries of Europe and every other continent, to those a little smaller, such as a remote island near Madagascar. The Italians seemed to be the biggest group, shortly followed by the Poles and the Spanish with a great turnout coming from The USA, Brazil, France, Argentina, Australia and many other countries including South Africa and India, even meeting a group from Iraq.
To stand amongst thousands of young people from these countries can only be explained as enlightening. To be united with millions of people from every corner of the earth, with one common interest connecting us, showed that faith has no borders. Guided by Papa Francesco in celebrations of unity, the way of the cross, a candle lit vigil and a papal mass is an experience which no person could ever forget. The presence of such unity taught me many things, not only about the world we live in but the potential there is for the future of our world. But the fundamental lesson learnt from my pilgrimage to World Youth Day is that I am certainly not part of a small group. The youth of the worldwide Catholic Church is stronger than I've ever known it. I am just one of millions. The vast international family of young Catholics are celebrating their unity in faith more than ever and I can only hope that World Youth Days continue for many years to come.
AugustineThe pilgrimage for me has been about experiencing the united faith of people from all nations. Everybody was friendly and shared a passion for God. Even queues were made fun by jolly attitude of the pilgrims. I saw that all pilgrims where attentive to the popes messages and had different things to take away. The confidence and faith of all young people was reassuring and is helping me grow in faith.
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