Youth Matters: Our Lady of Czestochowa

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Thirty-five Tasmanian pilgrims will make their way to Poland for the celebration of World Youth Day Krakow 2016 and preparations for this life changing experience are well under way. The whole Tasmanian pilgrimage group came together for the first time for a weekend retreat held 19 – 20 March in Westbury. This was a fantastic gathering with immense energy and excitement for the journey. Pilgrims had the chance to meet one another, and they certainly bonded well and engaged in the retreat with enthusiasm. The spirit was definitely at work here.

May is a month that the Church particularly dedicates to Mary, the mother of Jesus. In May we celebrate all mothers, on Mother’s Day, and the very special role they play in our lives. We look to our heavenly mother as well, and recognise the role she plays as Mother and example to us all. Tasmanian pilgrims will gather regionally in May and their formation will have a special focus on the place of Our Lady in our World Youth Day 2016 pilgrimage. In particular, this includes our visit to the Jasna Gora Shrine in Czestochowa, Poland, home to the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The image of Our Lady of Czestochowa is one of the Black Madonna images, and is highly revered by the people of Poland. In every Catholic Church in Poland you will find a copy of this special image. On the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa, 26 August each year, most Catholics in Poland will make a walking pilgrimage from their home to Czestochowa. Many Poles take weeks off work in order to make this pilgrimage.

Czestochowa will be an important place of pilgrimage for young pilgrims from all around the world during World Youth Day 2016. Millions of young pilgrims from nearly every country on earth are expected to visit the Jasna Gora shrine and experience this significant aspect of spirituality for the Polish people. Czestochowa is used to these kinds of numbers. Mass celebrated here on the Feast Day can attract numbers in their millions. Czestochowa itself also hosted World Youth Day in 1991.

Tasmanian pilgrims are looking forward to learning more about Our Lady of Czestochowa and being immersed in the culture and spirituality of the Catholic Church in Poland.

Please continue to pray for our pilgrims as they prepare for World Youth Day 2016 which will take place in July.

By Rachelle Smith, Director, Office of Youth Ministry