World Youth Day Diary

World Youth Day Diary

Fr James D. Fanning mhm

The third and last catechesis in our local church was given by Archbishop Kurt from Louisville Kentucky who is the Chairman of the United States episcopal conference. He was a jovial and sensitive man asking us where we all came from: America, Australia, Ghana, Malaysia, Great Britain and Poland. Hands up those who could understand his accent – and we all could! He said today we are going to deal with handing out mercy as a development on receiving it. He quoted the contribution of St John Paul 2 in Gaudium et Spes which says we do not assert ourselves so much in the world as Christians but we make a gift of ourselves.

He talked about the four temptations that interfere with our relationship with Christ: possessions, popularity, power and lack of self- discipline. And then he explained the seven corporal works of mercy followed by the seven spiritual works of mercy. He gave many illustrations and proved another good teacher.


Archbishop Kurt

After mass and confessions we headed into town. We knew when we hit Kraków where the streams of youth were immediately visible everywhere again. Kraków belongs to the youth.

We have free transport everywhere. It is only in Africa that I have seen buses as full with people but here they are all the joyful noisy youth.

I think the ticket inspectors have taken a holiday this week as in no way can they get on the vehicles when everyone is so tightly packed in. The rain welcomed us once again but the yellow,blue, and red poncho macs protected us again from its effects.

And today I finally met up with Michael, the Maasai man from Narok. He is one of the participants whom I have sponsored. He was sporting the full Maasai dress in the middle of Kraków town square with youths from all angles coming up to him to ask him for snaps together with him. He was the one carrying the Kenyan flag and leading the Kenyan delegation in front of the Pope yesterday. He really shone. His Kenyan group will go on from here to Taizé on Sunday before returning to Nairobi on 7th August. It is a wonderful experience for him. He tells me he is the only one from Ngong diocese, and the only Maasai, who made it.

We attended the stations of the cross together. The Pope arrived this time by helicopter. Again they were done beautifully with choirs and ballet dancers. I then learnt that there was a wavelength on our mobile phone which gives us the English translations of what is being said. I shared Michael's phone and at last understood what is going on.

We had to leave before the end as I wanted to get the 7.53 train back home. (I personally thought 6pm was too late to start stations of the cross). Maybe it was to fit in with the Pope's busy schedule of Auchwitz in the morning and visit to the children's hospital in the afternoon.I caught the train with five minutes to spare but as usual it was jam-packed .This time I had to stand the whole way home. I was so happy when I struggled in finally 8.40pm. No sign of the other youth. Some didn't come home last night.

I had another wonderful supper with the owners of the houses where we are staying with some good homemade wine from fruits and honey. Tomorrow there is an all night vigil..I'll sleep well tonight….end of fourth day.

Fr. James D. Fanning mhm

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