World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow

(By Genevieve Anne Gregorio | Miriam College)
Coming to Krakow, we were off to a bit of a rough start. With everything that was happening in the world at that time, we heard news and stories of acts of terrorism from different places in Europe, and with the arrival of Pope Francis in Krakow and all the activities gathering millions of Catholics all over the world, it has been nerve-wracking for us to be out in public, not knowing what kind of trouble could be lurking around the corner, we had to be on guard all the time. Despite that, we still managed to have fun and we prayed hard for our safety, for the safety of all the other delegates, and for the safety of the Pope.
Being delegates and exploring another country has been so fun and overwhelming! Folks were treating us like celebrities, no joke! People admired how joyful and enthusiastic we were and I think it comes naturally as Filipino Catholics. Personally, I was much in awe and fascinated by seeing people of different races and nationalities as well. I loved hearing them talk, their mannerisms, how different they looked from us, and how some of them looked very much alike even though they were from different countries. We even saw some delegates from our neighboring Asian countries as well and we were all smiles. One of the highlights of the event for me was walking to the Tauron Arena to hear our very own Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle say catechism, and preside the Holy Mass.
There were some days during the WYD proper when it rained hard. Being the sunny Filipino folks that we are, we took it as a blessing that despite being wet, we were still having fun. I, for one, would rather take the rain than walk a couple of kilometers in the scorching sun. At least it was cold and breezy.
But there were also days when it was so hot and the sun was out that we had to turn to each other for comfort and help. Some of my co-delegates were having a hard time in the heat that they would get weak and feel dizzy. Thankfully, we always go out in groups and so we were able to provide assistance to one another. I was actually surprised yet relieved that I did not feel weak like I was about to faint. For someone who gets hot and sweaty easily, I was doing well on those hot days. Well, if I would look at it in another level, I felt like it was a way for me to be able to help the others because I will not be able to give them the support and assistance that they needed if I was not feeling well, too. I guess one of the most important things that I have learned during the event was being resilient and staying strong. In that way, I was able to serve others, and I was able to serve the Lord.