Pilgrims take time to be still and pray following WYD excitement

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Aug 2016

On Saturday morning, 3,000 Australian pilgrims set out on a 14 kilometre walk to Campus Misericordiae, the site for the prayer vigil, sleepout and closing Mass for World Youth Day.  Extraordinary footage showed the estimated one million pilgrims at the vigil silent during Eucharistic Adoration.

After hearing the testimony of a young woman who has lost family and friends in the war in Syria, Pope Francis said that nothing justifies shedding the blood of a brother or sister.  He told the pilgrims that their response to a world at war was fraternity, brotherhood, communion, family.  "Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer," he said.

Australian pilgrims reflected on the pilgrimage walk and the vigil in the video below.

On Sunday morning, Pope Francis returned to celebrate Mass for an estimated two million people present at Campus Misericordiae.  Pope Francis preached about Zaccheus, telling pilgrims that God will surprise them with His forgiveness and peace, and exhorting them to "be not afraid" to say "yes" to Christ with all their hearts.  "Don't let your soul grow numb," he said, "but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice."

The video below shows the response of the Australian pilgrims following the final Mass.

With the World Youth Day week over, the pilgrims headed to Zakopane for a post-WYD retreat in the Polish mountains.  The mountains are the same ones on which Saint Pope John Paul II would retreat, celebrating Mass outdoors with youth from his Archdiocese.

In a similar fashion, WYD chaplains celebrated Mass for pilgrims on makeshift altars.

The pilgrims will now make their way home, many of them already planning to travel to Panama for WYD 2019.