Bishop Frank J. Caggiano
World Youth Day Liaison
June 10, 2015
Thank you, Archbishop Kurtz. Good morning/afternoon, brothers. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you. As the Conference’s Episcopal Liaison to World Youth Day, I have the distinct pleasure of sharing some wonderful information with you today:
The next international World Youth Day experience takes place one year from this summer: July 26-31, 2016, in Krakow, Poland, under a theme appropriate to this Jubilee Year: “Blessed are the Merciful, for They Shall Receive Mercy.” (Mt. 5:7)
We anticipate that over 30,000 young people and young adults from the United States will be there in Krakow, to join over 2.5 million others from around the world, and countless more participating stateside and online.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity and the local organizing team in Krakow are working to ensure that this will be a most memorable World Youth Day. I am pleased now to share a short video developed by the team in Krakow
Cardinal Stanislaus Dziwisz, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, who you saw in this video, personally sends his greetings to you here in the U.S. He wrote to us this spring saying:
“We very much look forward to receiving the American young people when they come to World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016. We are also very pleased to hear that so many bishops will be joining their young people on pilgrimage to Krakow. Please encourage them all to come to WYD next year! … Please pass on my greetings … to all the bishops of the United States as we anticipate with great joy this incredible pilgrimage of faith under the banner of Divine Mercy and through the intercession of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska.”
I reiterate his sentiments and with him, I encourage you, my brother bishops, to attend.
So why should we, as bishops, be a part of the World Youth Day experience? Many of us here could speak to this from our experience. Pope Francis calls us to smell like the sheep. World Youth Day is a wonderful chance to do that, even if those sheep smell like tired, sweaty, hungry young people! In all seriousness, WYD is a unique opportunity to be on pilgrimage with our young people. It is also a chance for us to connect with our brother bishops from around the world, all gathered with the Holy Father, in celebration of our universal Catholic faith. Over the years, World Youth Day has played an increasing role in helping young people discern their vocation to marriage, priesthood, or consecrated life and in general to respond more generously to their baptismal call to holiness. Personally accompanying and witnessing these young men and women go through that powerful journey towards answering God’s call is a gift both to them and to us. World Youth Day is a chance to see, firsthand, the gifts and enthusiasm of young people and the blessing they are to our Church and to the world into which they are being sent. It has always been a joy for me to experience the faith through their eyes, to listen to what they are saying to us, and to walk side-by-side with them in our shared journey to and with Christ.
Going to Krakow next year is also very significant. This will be the Jubilee Year of Mercy; what better place to celebrate that by going to Poland, the Land of Divine Mercy, as we celebrate World Youth Day under that same theme?
Krakow is the home of St. John Paul II, a beloved Holy Father whom we all know and whose ministry inspired us in our work and in many of our own vocations and continues to encourage us today. Krakow is a place of great spiritual depth – and within central Europe, is the city with the largest amount of saints and blesseds who are buried there. Krakow is the place where one could say that World Youth Day truly emerged. The city influenced a young Karol Wojtyla in so many ways, especially in his ministry to young people, a heritage that we are all still continuing to emulate as he did.
The Conference is ensuring your pilgrimage to Krakow will be a memorable one. The USCCB has booked a block of rooms at the Park Inn by Radisson, conveniently located across the river from Wawel (VA-VEL) Cathedral. We are planning a special Mass in Krakow for any and all young pilgrims from the United States during the week of World Youth Day. That will take place Wednesday, July 27, of 2016. You are invited to concelebrate with us there. There will be transportation for bishops to all the central events, and our staff will be on hand to assist us throughout the week. We will be in good hands.
We also want to encourage stateside engagement – in the spiritual and pastoral preparation for World Youth Day with resources coming soon from the USCCB, as well as digitally through social media and our website. And if you cannot travel to Poland, please consider leading a stateside pilgrimage in your diocese next summer for those young people unable to go to Krakow.
This summer, we begin a Year of Preparation with a special live-streamed kickoff event on July 7 at 2PM eastern, where I will join our staff at the St. Paul John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC. During that event, which will be live tweeted, we will encourage young people, stateside pilgrims, and leaders to intensify their preparations. We will also share details on our forthcoming resources and products.
Registration for bishops going to Krakow begins today. You can register online. The registration website can be found at the WYDUSA table outside the room here. More details on this and all other World Youth Day matters can be found at that table. You are also welcome to contact our World Youth Day staff at the offices in Washington if you have questions after this meeting.
Archbishop Kurtz, if time allows, I would be happy to receive any questions or comments.
Thank you for your time and attention.
I look forward to making this pilgrimage with you and the 30,000 American young people to Krakow or celebrating in solidarity with you and the hundreds of thousands of young people who will participate stateside in the United States.