Parish youth will encounter ‘magnitude’ of church at WYD

A group of 28 adults and youth from several parishes in the Diocese of St. Cloud are gearing up to experience World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in July. The group’s main organizer, Rob Schumer, has been to World Youth Day four times, first as a young adult in Cologne, Germany, in 2005, then as a leader. This will be his fifth trip.

“It is an amazing opportunity for anyone to experience,” Schumer said, “to see how massive the Catholic Church is. We see how great our faith is in our small parishes and communities, but to see the magnitude of the church at World Youth Day shows that the Catholic faith is really strong.”

Schumer, a member of St. Mary Parish in Upsala, encouraged people to attend the international gathering, mostly through word of mouth. The group of 28 comes from parishes from around the diocese including Little Falls, North Prairie, Holdingford and Avon and includes Father Gregory Mastey as spiritual director.

Though the event is designed for ages 18-30, Schumer said he doesn’t really see a “dividing line” between the youth and adults.

“We as adults experience just as much as they do,” he said. “There seems to be no barriers. We are all one.”

Some of the pilgrims have done fundraisers in their communities to help cover the expense of the trip, but Schumer said prayer is equally needed.

“We’ve done some things in the communities to raise awareness that we’re going to World Youth Day and people have been generous by giving us donations. But more so, we want people to support us not only financially, but spiritually,” he said.

He also wants people to know this is a pilgrimage, not a vacation, and that there will be sacrifices along the way, including less-than-ideal sleeping conditions and food and transportation issues.

“We will probably be walking sometimes 10 miles a day,” he said.

During their travels, he said, there will be time for prayer — on buses, trains and even on the street — and they will meet pilgrims from all over the world. The group is bringing along about 4,500 rosaries in red, white and blue to exchange with the other pilgrims along the way.

“You never know where we might stop to have Mass or pray a rosary. Often when we do, we might have 30 or 40 people join in with us,” he said. “We really focus on the reason we are there, to share and expand our faith with other pilgrims from around the world.”

Author: Kristi Anderson

Leave a Reply