World Youth day participants visit Auschwitz
Although gatherings of young people are often characterized by excitement, exuberance and the likes, the story is different for pilgrims of the 31st World Youth Day going on in Krakow, Poland. Every day, since the beginning of the WYD activities, up to 30,000 WYD participants visit the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to reflect, to ask important questions and seek answers, not only as an important history lesson, but also a unique personal experience, a unique place of reflection.
Bro. Wojdek of the Taize Community narrates his experience while visiting the camp:
“Today in the afternoon I just came back from Auschwitz, from the place where during the 2nd World War, hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated. and it is very surprising that the same young people who were expressing their joy, also go there and stop in order to reflect- reflect about the meaning of our life, about the meaning of our faith and the hope that we carry. At the same time, they see that the suffering in the world exists, that all over the world there are people who suffer from hunger, experience war and violence. “
Addressing a group of young people gathered to pray at the Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes in Kraków on July 23, Bro. Wojdek said “It is very impressive to see so many of you come here to Poland to pray together, to meet together, to share your enthusiasm and to discover that you are so many. In these days we see the contrast in the joy of your enthusiasm as you discover so many others who share in your faith but at the same time, you do not forget the reality- the reality that there are people who suffer and cannot rejoice like you. In this way, you are in fact preparing yourselves for the reality as witnesses of peace. “
Calling on all to pray for the suffering and persecuted all over the world especially in Africa and the Middle East, he said,
“We do not know the source of this suffering and violence but this is what we can do; we can entrust the suffering of ours and others to Christ. I think that as Christians, we have a responsibility and prayer is a part of this responsibility.”
In a beautiful gesture, the young people each come to the Cross, lay their foreheads on the wood of the icon of the Cross and pray silently in their hearts. In this way, they entrust the suffering to Christ.