Faith Matters

Irish pilgrims celebrate World Youth Day in Poland

Bishop Donal McKeown and his niece Therese McKinley from the Diocese of Derry

Hundreds of young people from Ireland are taking part in a worldwide encounter with the Pope.

Up to 1,600 are in Poland for World Youth Day (WYD) where they have been joined by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world.

WYD is typically celebrated every three years in a different country. Pope John Paul II founded the event in 1985. The first celebration was held in Rome.

Young Catholics take part in activities culminating in a papal mass on Sunday.

It is open to all young people who want to take part in a festive encounter with their contemporaries centered on Jesus Christ. The event is an opportunity to experience in first person the universality of the Church and to share the hope of many young people who want to commit themselves to Christ and others.

Organisers say it is a way to deepen faith and grow closer to Christ, by means of prayer and the sacraments, together with thousands of other young people with similar interests and ambitions.

During the week of WYD, which runs until July 31, there will be a complete cultural agenda in addition to events with Pope Francis.

A group of 60 young pilgrims from the Dioceses of Derry and Clogher are among those in Poland.

Led by Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, they arrived in Katowice this week to begin their participation in the Days in the Diocese programme, which offers the opportunity to experience the Church in Poland.

During the WYD festival, Bishop McKeown will be part of a team of catechists who will speak to the young pilgrims in Krakow.

People attending Pope Francis's meetings have been told to expect detailed security checks before entering, Polish police has said.

On Sunday, a 48-year-old Iraqi man was arrested in Lodz on charges of possessing explosives.

A spokesman for prosecutors in Lodz said "small amounts of explosives, not sufficient to make an explosion" were found on the man.

Poland's Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak reassured pilgrims that the WYD gatherings would be safe.

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