by Katie Hyde
Special to The Leaven
Though roughly 0.05 percent of the 200,000 Catholics of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas were able to attend World Youth Day in Poland, the 108 pilgrims that were able to make the trip made a big impression on Krakow.
Many of them brought a bit of Kansas to Krakow; others took a bit of Krakow back with them. And though the group was more than 5,000 miles away from home, Kansas was never far from their thoughts.
Many pilgrims remembered their Kansas communities by bringing something back home as gifts for others, including prayer cards, icons and rosaries blessed by Pope Francis.
Kathy Rhodes, principal of St. Patrick School in Kansas City, Kansas, remembered her school community by bringing 500 Divine Mercy medals to be blessed at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow where the miraculous image of the merciful Jesus is found.
This upcoming school year, each student will get a medal on his or her birthday.
Other groups carried their Kansas communities with them in prayer.
After two years of fundraising for World Youth Day, the pilgrims from Immaculate Conception – St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth had one final request for the parish community before heading to Poland: Give us your intentions.
Nearly 1,000 parishioners responded with written prayers and intentions.
Pilgrims from all over the archdiocese prayed for these intentions, then placed them at holy sites in Krakow.
For all of the pilgrims, especially those from Immaculate Conception – St. Joseph, it was a reminder not only to pray for their communities back home, but to give thanks for the spiritual and financial support of the archdiocesan community that made World Youth Day possible for them.
“For us, it was the parishioners who were with us on the journey,” said Francisco Melero, an Immaculate Conception – St. Joseph parishioner at who organized the effort.