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Day 3 Updates from WYD Kraków

The Adventure of Mercy


Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle of Manila drew thousands to the Mercy Centre for his Thursday catechesis session on the power of Christian solidarity.

College Knights joined over one million youth at Blonia Meadow Park to welcome Pope Francis.

For the second day in a row, #WYDMercyCentre was trending on Twitter as pilgrims continued to pour into the Knights of Columbus-sponsored Mercy Centre at World Youth Day Kraków. Some 15,000 pilgrims were in attendance on Thursday for the morning catechesis session with Cardinal Tagle. “This is the Church, the living Church!” he began to an eruption of cheers.

“Open yourselves to God’s mercy! God says: Have no fear. You are mine. Your sins can never diminish your worth.” he added.

Cardinal Tagle spoke of the importance of sharing in the spiritual journey of others. He described how profoundly moved he felt when, upon being made bishop, the members of his diocese said to him, "Your achievement is our common achievement.”

In a press briefing following catechesis, he said that it was the Knights of Columbus that led him to where he is today, serving as a cardinal of the Catholic Church. “Columbian Squires was my introduction to service [and] it ultimately led me to become a priest.”

When asked about the Catholic identity of the Philippines, he said: “While the country does count the largest numbers of Catholics, numbers shouldn’t define what it means to be Catholic. Being Catholic means being different in attitude. It means being humble, it means saying ‘I confess’ before the Lord.”

School of Mercy sessions continued to draw crowds throughout the arena. Notably, Vicky Thorn’s “The Biology of the Theology of the Body” was standing-room only.

"I went to Vicki Thorn’s talk. The room was packed, mostly college-age and high-school students, mainly from the United States," said College Knight Tyler Wisniewski. "I learned a lot about the side effects of the pill and the research that is being done. They are breaking great ground biologically. I am in grad school for genetic research, but a lot of this is not discussed. You hear about the perks of being on the pill, but you never hear about the side effects."

One of the most inspiring scenes at the Mercy Centre continued to be the Adoration Chapel in the small arena. Parts of the room were sectioned off for confession, and a steady stream of pilgrims came to sit, stand, or kneel in quiet prayer and contemplation throughout the day. “It’s an oasis of silence in a crowded arena,” one pilgrim observed.

In the afternoon, the youth made their way from the Mercy Centre to Blonia Meadow Park for the papal welcoming ceremony. The College Knights were among hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world to welcome Pope Francis to WYD Kraków.

On stage with the pope were young ambassadors from Europe, Africa and Asia performing their traditional dances, displaying the joy and beauty of the universal Church. A group of Polish youth gave a performance on sainthood appearing costumed as recognizable young saints, many of them recently canonized.

Against the backdrop of the Divine Mercy image and illustrations of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska, patrons of the 2016 World Youth Day, Pope Francis thanked his predecessor for beginning the tradition of World Youth Days. He praised the “enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy with which so many young people live their lives,” and warned them not to be tempted by “dark paths” or to “run after peddlers of fond illusions.”

He added, “We ask our Lord: Launch us on the adventure of Mercy!”

Polish Knight Piotr Puszka described the scene with the arrival of Pope Francis: "It's every flag, from every county, as far as the eye can see — so many people! It’s a very special event. He's the head of the Church! Everyone should see him in person, at least once.”

In awe of his surroundings, one College Knight remarked to a fellow pilgrim, "I want to cry. Look, it’s so beautiful.”

“It’s a really good thing that we're all here witnessing this," said College Knight Matthew Fraley, equally moved by the experience. When asked what his message was for the youth back home, he simply said, "They need to be here. They need to see this. This proves that the Church isn't dying —it’s growing.”