TWO million pilgrims are set to pass through Poland’s city of churches with one mantra – not to be labelled tourists.
Among the millions, there will be 26 young people from Brisbane walking through Krakow in July, proudly wearing the badge of pilgrims.
For the first time in World Youth Day history, the number of pilgrims will out-number the population of the host city.
The estimated two million pilgrims from around the world will have quite an impact on Krakow city’s 755,000 people.
Any WYD pilgrim will be able to recall the long walks, transport delays and difficulty in finding food, which is an integral part of the World Youth Day experience.
This is why it is so important for pilgrims to have as their mantra: We are pilgrims, not tourists.
Last week Brisbane archdiocese’s pilgrimage group gathered for a formation evening with Fr Dom Orih.
As the group’s chaplain, Fr Orih helped pilgrims prepare spiritually for the journey by outlining the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist.
“A pilgrim and a tourist may follow the same itinerary, but the pilgrim is on a sacred journey,” he said.
A tourist is someone who is concerned with shopping, entertainment, comfort, personal wants and accumulating souvenirs.
The tourist returns home as the same person as the one who left.
A pilgrim is someone who is on a sacred journey, in which God is encountered through places, people and situations.
A pilgrim gains new insights and discerns new truths about oneself.
The tourist may find companionship, but the pilgrim experiences community.
The outcome of the pilgrimage will be the transformation that has taken place inside each pilgrim.
At the very heart of this pilgrimage is the hope that each pilgrim will have an encounter with Christ, and come home transformed, ready to witness to Christ more fully in their lives.
There are still ways that you can get to World Youth Day this year. Contact the Youth Evangelisation Office on 3324 3455 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get to Krakow.
By Emilie Ng