~ Rebecca Wilson

Date: 9 November

In July Amelia and I went to Krakow for world youth day with 41 other members of Leeds diocese and a million others from around the world. I had one of the most unforgettable twelve days of my life where I met amazing people, learned more about the family of the church and saw my own faith in a whole new light.
I spent the time in the twelve days we had together feeling so lucky to be catholic. When describing the trip to others, I found myself finishing most sentences with “but with Catholics”. For example - “I can’t believe everyone was just running around the streets chanting with their flags. It was like being at a world cup but with Catholics” or “I love praise and worship even more now there’s a million of us. This is like the best concert ever but with Catholics”. I felt so proud to be a catholic, and especially proud to be a young catholic when I heard that pope Francis wanted to recruit one million young Catholics to do the work of the church. When I saw him declare this on the big screen and as my radio translated his words in my head I immediately thought “me, I’ll do it. I want to be part of this” As I think back this was one of my favourite parts of the pilgrimage. I just felt so hopeful for the future- the future of my own faith and the future of the church Even when I was feeling discouraged I kept this hope with me. The walks to and from the field for the pope’s vigil were tough, and they reminded me that we all have a cross to carry. Still, I knew that if anyone could help us, it was Jesus, or sister Chiara with an umbrella.
I think that because the week had so many ups and downs I could really appreciate what was important. When I wasn’t caught up in my own joy I would think about what I had left behind, I thought about the relationships I had with my friends and family, who would I be when I came home and the festival atmosphere had gone? I thought and prayed about it a lot, but I think what really helped me was the people I was surrounded with. The new friends I had made and the LDYS leaders were so supportive, and through speaking together and listening to each other’s testimonies I knew that with any issue I could possibly encounter God would be there for me.
Another thing I took away from my pilgrimage to Krakow was the desire to do it all over again. I’ve met with God in fields and arenas, celebrated mass with millions of others, and hopped over a fence I wasn’t supposed in an attempt to get closer to the pope. If I can experience even a fraction of the joy I felt in Poland when we go to Panama in 2019, I’ll feel like the luckiest person in the world.
I’m so grateful to the parish for every prayer and pound donated that helped me to get to Krakow last summer, I couldn’t have done it without your support. I would recommend world youth day to anyone that wants to get involved and I hope I’ve inspired other young people to be a part of the great youth events that the diocese provides. I also want to thank Helen and Father Lawrie for organising mine and Amelia’s fundraising and for being extremely patient with us - this late letter of thanks will tell you that I am the most disorganised person to ever exist - so thank you so much.