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World Youth Day 2016

Blog: WYD a Snapshot of the Kingdom?

todayJuly 28, 2016 27

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The TV programs you watch and the magazines you read probably won’t carry very faith-filled messages, and you only have to switch on the news or open a web browser to realise that the world you live in isn’t exactly one that’s tripping over itself to make Jesus known and loved.

Yesterday morning though, I found myself with a group of young English Christians, and something happened that turned that usual dynamic on its head. We were on a tram heading into Krakow. There were groups of young people from all over the world on the tram. They were dressed in their World Youth Day T-shirts, some were carrying banners, and all of them were interacting with one another, swapping mementos, and introducing themselves in whatever foreign words they could muster. All of a sudden, somebody started singing, and everyone else just joined in. Before long, two whole carriages were singing ‘Bless the Lord, Oh my soul…’ This public tram, so used to taking accountants, builders, and nurses to work, was all of a sudden, alive with the Gospel. A sign to the world and an affirmation for the Church.

We got off the tram in the centre of Krakow (such a beautiful place), and that sign continued. Groups of pilgrims filled every street. Their flags and their songs showed us the different corners of the world they came from. All through the town, they were stopping each other and saying hello. They swapped gifts (everyone brings little mementos to trade), they sing songs together, and they took photos, temporarily turning this city into a place where faith was front and centre.

As the day progressed, these crowds made their way to a place called Blonia (Meadow, in Polish) for the opening Mass with the Cardinal archbishop. An estimated five hundred thousand were in attendance! 

When we pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ – which we do pretty much every day – surely that’s the sort of world that we want to usher in? A world where being a Christian isn’t something niche that gets marginalised by the world, but something that transforms buses, workplaces and homes in spontaneous praise of God!

For me, that’s what’s so special about World Youth Day. It’s not the millions of people gathered around the Pope; it’s not the excellent catechesis; it’s not the world class Christian musicians; or the huge menu of Youth Festival events. Great though those things are, WYD gives us something even better: it gives us a snapshot of what the world could really be like if Christ were allowed in. Moreover, it gives millions of young people a vision to aim towards with every part of their lives.


Jack Regan is the Youth Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. He is also a freelance writer and speaker, and is the founder of He has been in ministry for seventeen years.

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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