Last year I was given the opportunity to attend World Youth Day 2016 (WYD16) and ever since, I have been looking forward to this experience, which I believe will change my life.
This is the first major youth gathering which I have attended and I am very excited to experience one, especially on the scale of WYD.
I believe that this experience will help develop me as a person, especially my faith and spirituality, and that it will be a worthwhile and beneficial experience.
In order to be able to embark on this pilgrimage, I, along with my fellow pilgrims, needed to gather the money to afford the pilgrimage. We achieved this through various fundraising efforts through my school, St John Bosco College, Engadine, and Sydney Catholic Schools. These fundraising efforts, as well as my job and family donations, have allowed me to embark on this once in a lifetime journey.
My family was excited to hear that I had plans to attend WYD and was very helpful in the efforts to raise the money allowing me to go. I am very grateful for this.
Our pilgrimage sends us to Italy, landing in Milan and then travelling to Florence. From there, we travel through Italy and the beautiful cities of Siena, Assisi and Rome where we visit the landmarks of the areas as well as the magnificent religious sites, churches and cathedrals. Attending Mass in such amazing places will be an experience I will never forget.
After our week in Italy, we then will fly to Warsaw and make the journey to Krakow, the site of the WYD week. With millions of other pilgrims from all over the world, we will participate in Mass, catechesis and the way of the cross, joined by Pope Francis himself. Later that week we will embark on the 14-kilometre walk to the site of the vigil and final Mass where we will sleep under the stars with all the other pilgrims, united by faith.
At the conclusion of the WYD festival, we head to the beautiful area of Zakopane, situated at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains for our post-WYD retreat. After spending time reflecting on our experiences we will travel to Vienna before returning home.
I am most looking forward to experiencing something which I will never forget and where I can express my faith among the millions of other pilgrims in a truly special way. I hope to find a stronger connection with God, and to take as much as I can from this experience, as faith is a very important aspect of my life.
My biggest challenge while overseas will definitely be the fact that I am away from my family for such a long time. This is the first time I will be away from them and I hope that I will be able to cope without them.
Bosco College has helped shape my faith formation through encouraging me to go to church and by educating me about my faith. I have participated in formation days, which were organised by Sydney Catholic Schools and facilitated by Bosco College. Bosco has contributed tremendously to my pilgrimage to WYD. If it wasn’t for the college and our highly dedicated youth ministry co-ordinator and pilgrim leader, Maria Bautista, there is no way I would have such an opportunity. I am truly thankful for this privilege, as well as the enormous efforts made in fundraising and preparation for this great pilgrimage.