"We have an exciting journey ahead of us," said Bishop Richard J. Malone to some of the 200 local pilgrims who are headed for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. During a send-off Mass Friday afternoon at Our Lady of Victory Basilica, the bishop said "I ask you to keep in mind one simple truth. The experience we're sharing is all about Jesus."
This is the 14th International World Youth Day celebration, where people in their teens, twenties and thirties are urged to answer the invitation of the Holy Father and carry home the message received there to be Christ's light to the world. While these events are organized by the clergy and laity of the Catholic Church, youth of all faiths are invited to attend and encounter Christ, making this gathering truly universal.
Saint John Paul II launched the first World Youth Day in 1986. This year's event is expected to draw more than a million Catholics to Warsaw, Poland , not far from the birthplace of Saint John Paul II, Wadowice, Poland. The Buffalo group will see his hometown and also pay a somber visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
"By the time we finish our pilgrimage, if our relationship with Jesus has grown a little closer for each of us, if it has become more real or maybe a little more personal, then our pilgrimage has been a complete success" said Bishop Malone who will also be traveling to Poland for the event.
On certain days throughout the 12 day trip, the Diocesan group will enjoy Mass celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo. On Saturday, July 30, they will be part of a prayer vigil with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The group that left from the Basilica included 146 Catholics representing 29 local parishes. There are at least 50 other local Catholics heading to Poland in smaller separate groups from local colleges and from St. Brendan on the Lake in Newfane.
"I'm very excited. There's definitely a little bit of an adrenaline rush going,"said Elizabeth Kubiniec, a 17 year old parishioner at Assumption Church in Buffalo." I'm looking forward to giving and receiving Mercy. Finding food will be tough sometimes, dealing with people in close proximity may be tough, communicating across different language barriers might be obstacles, but I look forward to overcoming these obstacles with joy through God."
This will be the fifth time Bishop Malone has attended a World Youth Day event. "I still find these experiences powerfully, overwhelmingly transformative," said the bishop. "There's something of an energy of grace and of God's presence that you will feel during this time. There's a solidarity you will feel with throngs of young believers like yourselves from every part of the world. But with all of that, please be coming back to one truth; it's all about Jesus."
To follow the local pilgrims itinerary on-line go to: