WYD 2016 Krakow, Poland

My name is Sr. Emily Lepage from the Diocese of Grouard McLennan. I presently live in Wetaskiwin, Alberta and belong to the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus.

I praise and thank God for the wonderful opportunity to be at the WYD 2016 in this year of Mercy!

There were about 2.6 million young people from all over the world gathered in Krakow for the 31st international WYD. Catechetical session were being offered daily by Cardinals and bishops in every spoken language. Friday night is always dedicated to an amazing artistic demonstration of the Stations of the Cross. Then the highlight of the gathering is a night vigil with the Holy Father where afterwards we all sleep on open grounds looking at the stars! Then the whole event concludes with the celebration of the Holy Mass and the announcement of where the next WYD will take place.

During this year’s world youth gathering our congregation was divided into two groups one was the evangelization and the other vocational. Each of about 30 sisters. I was in the vocational group. It was an amazing experience filled with profound joy to be among such a great number of religious, it was an overflowing of joy which was very contagious to all who meet us!

Besides this experience a few more things marked me profoundly:

-I saw many youth pushing their friends in wheelchair. I was amazed to see their zeal, love and dedication! Nothing would stop them from having these special people, to experience the same faith and joy of being part of the WYD, they had just as much wright to be there than anyone. Their faith was beyond! In the rain, rocky ground, burning sun, muddy soil, etc. nothing stopped them!

-The testimony of Rand Mittri a Syrian refugee girl, at the vigil was extremely powerful! For Rand the source of joy and peace is the faith in Jesus Christ. She asks for prayers for her and her family.

-During the vigil everyone was invited to hold hands and pray in silence, this moment was so powerful, it felt as if the whole heaven had descended to take part of this moment. Which I’m pretty sure happened!

-And I will end with the words of the Holy Father that touched me most: “We didn’t come into this world to “vegetate,” to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark!”

God bless you!

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