WORLD Youth Day Sydney helped Brisbane’s Zach Woodward find answers to his faith questions and start living an “authentic Catholic life”.
As a Year 12 student in 2008, Mr Woodward travelled down to Sydney for a WYD pilgrimage with the Albany Creek parish.
“It was at that point in my life that I had a lot of questions about what it was to be Catholic,” Mr Woodward said.
“It was weird because I still loved going to Mass, but I had a lot of issues with the Church.”
Hearing catechesis talks from bishops and young people, experiencing “good quality Catholic music” and going to the sacraments with other youth helped Mr Woodward to appreciate the faith.
“I came home from WYD wanting to live an authentic Catholic life, because that appeared more attractive than just doing it by halves,” he said.
Seven years on, the high school campus minister is now preparing to re-experience the global Church as the Krakow, Poland WYD 2016 Brisbane liaison officer.
In that role, Mr Woodward will lead young people to Krakow as part of the Queensland pilgrimage group, co-ordinated by Toowoomba’s diocesan youth minister Sarah de Byl.
Mr Woodward said WYD Krakow would be a “special” time to remember the saint who started the global youth pilgrimage.
“WYD is (St Pope John Paul II’s) legacy, so to be able to go to his homeland and to where he was born and where he became a priest, that will be very special,” he said.
“And to go to Mass with people from all around the world, that’s pretty cool.”
While an official pilgrimage program was still being confirmed, Mr Woodward said pilgrims could choose from a direct route to Krakow or an extended trip.
More information will be released on the official website for Queensland pilgrims which goes live on Palm Sunday, March 29.
Mr Woodward encouraged parishes to celebrate young people on Palm Sunday, and asked young people to discern attending the pilgrimage to Krakow or to attend one of three information nights in the archdiocese.
Irish visitor Niamh Healy is one eager pilgrim hoping to visit the Basilica of the Divine Mercy, built in honour of Polish St Faustina Kowalska.
Pope Francis has also asked young people to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3pm every day as preparation for their pilgrimage to Krakow, which will focus on the theme of mercy during the week-long event.
“This Basilica of the Divine Mercy holds a special place in my heart as I have witnessed the fruits of a visit there in my own family,” Miss Healy said.
She said WYD magnified the global unity of the Catholic Church.
“Young people from all over the world who don’t know each other and who may not even speak the same language, have a joy and a love toward one another,” she said.
“This is something we as young people can take with us back to our own countries and our own lives.”
WYD Krakow information nights will be held on Friday April 10, from 7pm at Surfers Paradise parish hospitality centre; Sunday, April 12, from 6.30pm at St Maximilian Kolbe parish hall, Marsden; and Tuesday, April 14, from 7pm at the Francis Rush Centre, Brisbane.
Contact Zach Woodward at email@example.com for more information, or find the event on Facebook.