by Katie Hyde
Special to The Leaven
I traveled to Krakow, Poland, with 107 very special people.
They are students, seminarians, educators, youth ministers, priests and religious. They are moms and dads, brothers and sisters, young and old. They are from every corner of the archdiocese, and they have now all met people from every corner of the globe.
As I learned early on in our trip, they are some of the most passionate, excited and cool people I’ve ever met. Even when covered in mud and rain. Even after walking 10 or more miles a day in the hot sun. Even when squeezed, shoved and smushed by crowds of over one million people trying to get a glimpse of Pope Francis.
I witnessed as they carried each other’s burdens, both physically and spiritually. They lifted each other up in prayer and rejoiced in others’ spiritual transformation.
They also carried one another’s physical burdens during the moments when we doubted whether we could go on.
They shared food and water with one another, even when it meant going a little hungry or thirsty themselves.
In this special issue of The Leaven, Joe McSorley (my trusty right-hand man and Leaven photographer) and I want to paint for you a picture of our pilgrimage to Krakow: the torrential rainstorms that seemed to always catch us at the wrong time, the jam-packed days and restless nights, and our often Kafkaesque journeys through the winding streets of Krakow.
More importantly, we want to share the moments that made us laugh and cry during our time in Poland. We knelt in a shrine where the history is so rich and the devotion so great that you can feel grooves in the marble ground from the millions of knees who have prayed in that sacred place.
We met hundreds of Catholics from every cultural background and shared many laughs and stories.
We stood in silence with tears in our eyes as we listened to the Holy Father’s messages of encouragement and hope.
And all of us returned home changed.
It was such a joy to join this special group of people and watch as they encountered Christ in Krakow and in one another. And it’s a joy to be able to share their stories with you.