Our Family of Faith Just Got Bigger
My name is Damien Webb and I am 29 years old. I am currently teaching kindergarten at St Clare of Assisi Primary School, Conder, ACT. I come from a large family of seven boys, and am used to having lots of people around me. I’ve grown up playing sport. Religion was always a huge part of my life and I hope that continues.
I was fortunate enough to attend World Youth Day in Sydney, where I was part of a media team for Australian Catholic University. It was an amazing experience to meet people from all around the world, who are so different and unique, yet they all have a common faith and belief in Jesus.
I am hoping that World Youth Day in Kraków will allow me to deepen my personal relationship with Jesus. And now that I am teaching others, I will have the gift of my journey to share with my students in the hope that they will also form a deeper love of Jesus.
It has been amazing to be with over one million happy people who are clearly in love with their faith. And it has been refreshing to know that in the tough times, our faith is alive and well!
My name is Katherine and I live in Tuggeranong, ACT. 2016 has already been a big year for me as I got married to David in January and turned 30 in June. I have also been really excited to be part of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn WYD Pilgrimage to Poland. I am a teacher at St John Vianney’s Primary School in Waramanga, and my Year 3/4 class have been really excited to learn about the amazing places I would be visiting in Poland. In my spare time I love reading, walking my dog and visiting our family farm in the Araluen Valley, near Braidwood in NSW.
One thing I have gained from my WYD experience is a greater understanding of the global Catholic faith community. It has been so amazing to meet young Catholics from all around the world and talk to them about their lives and their faith.
My personal highlight of the pilgrimage was during the Papal arrival celebrations on Thursday when I was lucky enough to be selected to be the flag-bearer to represent Australia. I was proud to wave the Australian flag as I walked across the main stage, right in front of Pope Francis! It was an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
My name is Clare and I’m a 19 year old law student at the University of Canberra. This is my second World Youth Day, as I attended in Sydney with my family in 2008. That week was significant because I was quite young, and it exposed me to the real depth of a global faith, marking the beginning of my own personal faith journey.
Coming on this pilgrimage to Kraków, I had hoped to challenge myself in my faith and to end the journey with a stronger and more abundant love for Christ. The last few weeks have been some of the most amazing weeks of my life. Not only have I deepened my love for Jesus, and shared that experience with a million other people from all over the world, I have learnt a lot about Poland and some of the world-changers that have come from this beautiful country, such as John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe. I feel so blessed to be able to participate in this journey with so many wonderful people – my new friends!
My name is Stuart West and I am the Coordinator, Youth and Young Adults for our Archdiocese. I am 28 years old, married and have 2 children, Albert (2) and Audrey (3 months). I am the pilgrimage coordinator for our group at WYD Kraków. I hoped that WYD would be a safe experience for all of our pilgrims, and that as we journeyed together we could all grow in our relationship with God and each other.
I have found the past weeks equal parts of challenge and joy. The challenge of being away from my family has led me to a greater appreciation of the wonderful gift they are to me. The great joy of my trip has been seeing the way our group has grown together, and cared for each other on this journey. I have also felt challenged by the words of Pope Francis at the prayer vigil. He said that a paralysis can set in when we confuse happiness with a couch, but that true happiness comes not from the comfort of a couch but having a purpose, to trade our couch for shoes. As we start our retreat and journey home I ask myself this question; “how will I live my life differently because of what I have experienced here?”