Boston pilgrims inspired by World Youth Day

Pilgrims and priest attend Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa. Pilot photo/George Martell

KRAKOW -- For Kyle Joy, it wasn't just the new people he met or the new cultures he experienced that served as highlights of his trip to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day 2016, but it was also the people he traveled with.

"I've traveled with some of the most holy people I've ever met before in my life, and having gone to a very secular school in a very secular state, it's a very different experience spending time with these holy people, because rather than dragging you back, they push you forward," said Joy, who traveled to World Youth Day with his parish, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Townsend.

"Having these friends push you forward really exemplifies the beauty of Catholicism. We're all in it for each other and we all drive each other closer to God, and I think I've made friendships that will really last me a lifetime," he continued.

Joy and his fellow parishioners made up a larger group of around 370 youth, young adults, and leaders who traveled to this year's World Youth Day under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support, which organized and planned the trip.

While the event ran from July 25 to July 31, a number of those travelling with the archdiocese spent several extra days in Poland to visit some of its many places of worship.

One such place was the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland. The monastery holds a revered icon of the Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Czestochowa, and for Melisa Oittinen, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Townsend, seeing that was one of the highlights of the trip.

"I'm very strongly attached to Our Lady, so I absolutely loved" visiting the monastery, she said.

Oittinen said that while she and her fellow pilgrims were at the monastery, they crossed "around the chapel on their knees, which was a great mortification," and climbed the bell tower to look out over Poland.

Half-Polish herself, Oittinen noted that "it was really wonderful to see where I come from" and learn more about her family's culture.

Other key events of the trip included an opening ceremony with Archbishop of Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz; a Mass at the Basilica of Divine Mercy celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley; a dinner with Cardinal O'Malley in Krakow; and of course, Eucharistic Adoration, a visit to the Auschwitz memorial and museum, and a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

Before the Mass, which was celebrated on the morning of July 31 and saw and estimated 1.5 million people attend, many pilgrims attended an overnight vigil where they slept out under the stars in a field.

Maura Maginnis, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hopkinton, attended the vigil, but sprained her ankle while walking several miles to get to the field. She said that she managed to stay overnight, but in the morning left to go back to the hotel with several other members of her group, who had gotten sick.

"We were just devastated that we couldn't stay for the Mass with the pope," Maginnis said.

When they arrived back at the hotel, they relaxed and gathered their thoughts and attended a Mass at the church "where Pope St. John Paul II was a parish priest."

During the homily, the priest celebrating the Mass began to speak about "all of the people who weren't able to stay for the Mass (with the pope,) who had to leave early, who couldn't even go in the first place, and how even though it seemed like a disappointment at the time, it was a blessing to us all because we were able to come back and rest and get healthy," said Maginnins.

"Then he started talking about how blessings can travel, and how even though we weren't in Pope Francis' presence, we were still being thought of and prayed for," she continued.

Sitting in a room filled with people in similar situations as hers, Maginnis felt "blessed by everyone," and the experience actually turned into one of her favorite parts of the trip.

Many of the pilgrims traveling with the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support did not return home until Aug. 3, as they traveled to Zakopane, a mountainous town in southern Poland, after the event for a chance to reflect on the trip.

Assistant Vocation Director for the archdiocese Father Eric Cadin, who also attended the trip, noted that as he and the pilgrims return to their everyday lives, they face the challenge of living out Pope Francis' call to "fraternity, to fellowship."

"Our challenge is to go home and to get involved in our parishes, to get involved in our youth groups, to get involved in drawing (people) together, in walking on this path to holiness not by myself, but with each other," he said.

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...