by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — One moment at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in 2016 summed up Rick Cheek’s entire experience.
“Going up to Communion at the Mass there, I saw a young man carrying his brother who had no arms or legs,” he said, “and it just brought tears [to my eyes] because that’s what it’s about.
“We need to bring each other to Communion, and we need to be that Christ for others.”
High school youth in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and their chaperones will have the “once in a lifetime” opportunity, said Cheek, to attend a World Youth Day next summer.
The event will be held from Aug. 1-6 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The gathering that brings together youth from around the world every three years will give attendees ample opportunities to grow deeper in faith and fellowship with other young Catholics.
Daily catechesis, Stations of the Cross, a youth festival and a vigil with the pope are just a few of the offerings attendees can expect.
The archdiocese took a group of 109 to Poland in 2016. Cheek said he would be happy with 50-75 next year.
“We’re going to do the simple, basic stuff this time around,” he said. “We’re going to be sleeping on gym floors.”
Although the trip can be physically challenging, especially with all the walking included in the World Youth Day experience, Cheek said the physical demands are worth the obstacles along the way.
“If you put that aside and look at the main reason we’re there — we’re there to be a community of one, holy, catholic and apostolic church — that’s the exciting part of it.
“The power of being together as one big church is incredible.”
Like Cheek, Kelly Kmiecik, administrative assistant for the archdiocesan vocations office, is busy making preparations for World Youth Day.
Although she won’t be making the trip herself, she’s ensuring 24 archdiocesan seminarians are ready for the journey.
Kmiecik said the number of seminarians is greater than normal, and she’s excited for the impact World Youth Day can have on their future priesthood.
“It’s such a beautiful opportunity for them, just like the young people, to witness the wholeness of the church and the universality of it,” she said.
“It can’t be anything but good to witness the people from all over the world there,” she continued, “and the strength that will give them and the growth I think that they will receive from having that experience.”
Young people interested in attending World Youth Day 2023 should contact Cheek by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (913) 284-1725.
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