Published January 21, 2016
DUNWOODY—A group of 20 people from the Archdiocese of Atlanta plan to make a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in July in Krakow, Poland.
Christina Wheeler, parishioner of All Saints Church in Dunwoody, has organized the 10-day trip to Krakow, Czestochowa and Wadowice, Poland, the birthplace of St. Pope John Paul II.
World Youth Day is a meeting of youth from across the world with catechists, priests, bishops and the pope. The theme of the 2016 World Youth Day, chosen by Pope Francis, is the fifth Beatitude—“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Wheeler, the mother of two Life Teen students at All Saints, has traveled to Poland before.
She said pilgrims represent Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Blessed Trinity High School, and Marist School, as well as St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell.
“We have mix of people,” she said about the ages of the pilgrims.
Anyone age 15 or younger must be accompanied by a parent on the trip, said Wheeler.
The Atlanta pilgrimage will be from July 24-Aug. 2. Spots are still available, but Wheeler encourages those interested to register soon.
Pilgrims will visit Czestochowa guided by a local monk at the Monastery of Jasna Gora, the Basilica of the Holy Cross and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which holds the Black Madonna, the monastery’s most precious treasure.
During the trip, stops will be made at the Wawel Castle in Krakow and the Basilica of Saint Mary.
The opening Mass for World Youth Day will be July 26, and the group will also participate in other WYD activities and programs.
“There is some catechesis created,” said Wheeler about the spiritual aspects of the journey.
Sister Eileen McCann, who previously served as Bishops’ Consultant for Youth and Young Adult Ministry at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has prepared pre- and post-departure catechesis. The recipient of the 2008 National Catholic Youth Ministry Award, Sister McCann was responsible for U.S. preparations for WYD 2013.
Pope Francis will arrive on July 28 and present a welcoming address to the participants. Stations of the Cross will be the following day. The highlight of the trip for the young people is the overnight vigil following Eucharistic adoration on July 30.
On July 31, the pope will concelebrate Mass with thousands of bishops and priests and will address the young people to send them out to the world to witness to their faith. At the end of Mass, the Holy Father will announce the place where the next edition of World Youth Day will be held.
Following World Youth Day, the group will travel to Wadowice and the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, where St. Pope John Paul II was baptized.
Wheeler said one stop that is tentatively planned is the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz where St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life to save a fellow prisoner. Due to the large crowds expected for World Youth Day, the site may be closed.
Wheeler plans for the teens and young adults to share their experiences with others back home.
“One of the things we want them to do is a blog,” she said.
For information on the Atlanta pilgrimage to World Youth Day, contact Christina Wheeler at 770-316-4450 or go to www.myfaithjourneys.com/login and enter group number 16002.