This whole trip has been a pilgrimage leading up to the events of World Youth Day and more specifically the events with the Pope. Seeing all the important places and churches that were important to JPII was so special. Those of you that have travelled to Europe know that they don't tear anything down. They might use the building for something different but it is still standing. Praying in the churches where Fr. Karol Wojtyla served and prayed himself is something I never thought I would be able to say I would get to do. But after all the sight seeing, we have come to why we are here: for the World Youth Day pilgrimage. This has included: waking up early just to wait an hour for our bus to ar

A Little More on the Theme

Blessed are the merciful. Poland, specifically Krakow, is the land of Divine Mercy. It is the city whereinwhich Saint Faustina visited with Jesus face-to-face and he gave her his message of unending mercy. Through those visits we have a diary written by her with the accounts of the encounters, as well as the icon of Divine Mercy and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (prayed using the beads of a Rosary). If you have never heard of St. Faustina, seen the image of Divine Mercy, or prayed the Chaplet I highly encourage it. While St. Pope John Paul II never met St. Faustina their paths had to have crossed at some point being that they both prayed in the same places at the same time. Nevertheless their

John Paul II Smirking From Heaven

Wednesday was a great day. It was also surprisingly restful for Suzanne and me. After our first morning of catechists and Mass (given and celebrated by Archbishop Kurtz (President of the USCCB) we made our way to the Tauron Arena on the other side of the city. The arena is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus all week and Wednesday was dedicated specifically to the American Church. We were blessed to be able to take in a panel discussion on religious freedom given by Archbishop Lori (Baltimore), the Archbishop of Baghdad, and George Weigel. There was one other panelist whose name I forget but she is a lobbyist in D.C. as well as in other countries on behalf of religious freedom. It is said t

The Ups and Downs of the First Day of WYD

World Youth Day 2016 has officially begun! So what has today included? Well our bus this morning was late, it started pouring down rain while we were waiting for Mass, and as of this writing (11:07 pm) we are waiting for the bus to go back to the hotel after a long journey of crowded trains and lots of walking (nearly 9 miles at this writing). O wait, that sounds like all bad things doesn't it. This is a pilgrimage and that means taking the bad with the good. We like our lives to be comfortable, easy, filled with sunshine and rainbows. But that isn't life. In my life I've found that the hard times make you realize all your blessings. And all the hard times prepare you for the good times.


We are a little behind on the blog posts but they are keeping us busy. Monday was our last day of touring before beginning World Youth Day events. We left our hotel and finally headed into Krakow. On our walk to Wawel Hill, we saw two of the appartments where Fr. Karol Wojtyla lived as Bishop and Archbishop of Krakow. On Wawel Hill is the former castle of the Polish royal family and the Wawel Cathedral which is where Fr. Wojtyla served as Bishop and Archbishop. We also learned about the dragon of Wawel Hill (cool story, Google it), as well as a few of the other Saints of Krakow. The city is full of examples of faithful men and women... no wonder it produced Saint John Paul II and Saint Faust

Calling on God's Mercy, Part II

pilgrims from around the world In the few minutes I had before Mass, I briefly stepped into an upstairs hall - large tapestries hung from the ceiling, each one commemorating visits Pope John Paul II had made to Marian shrines or sites. When I turned around, I ran into Bishop J. Folda from my home Diocese of Fargo, ND! They say 'the Catholic world is a small world.' We weren't able to chat long, but I am surely thankful for that Shepherd looking after my family's flock. At Noon there was Mass prayed in English in the Basilica, which was rebuilt in the early 1700's in the style of Polish Baroque - so gorgeous and inspiring! Not just our group from the Diocese of Winona was in attendance,

Calling on God's Mercy, Part I

Jesus told Sr. Faustina to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as much as possible. She would pray it for any need, no matter how small, because it demonstrated how much she trusted Jesus and relied on His merciful love. The more we trust Jesus, the more He can do in our lives – that’s just how it ''works,’and that’s what He wants! Early on in this pilgrimage I had an opportunity to exercise trust, and I saw how God was looking out for me! On Thursday, July 21st, we had two hours from the time our plane landed in Paris to get to our connecting Berlin flight at an adjacent gate. In the fairly empty airport at 11:30am, we were brought through another security point that would inspect our carr

The Beginnings of JPII

I think this is Day 4 of our Pilgrimage officially. With over a day a day of travel under our belt, we have visited the Tatra Mountains (separates Poland from Slovakia) in the beautiful mountain city of Zakopane where St. John Paul II would retreat to ski, hike, and be in the presence of God in nature. It was glorious! The architecture of the city was stunning - everything was hand crafted out of wood so intricately. We visited a shrine to Our Lady of Fatima which was built in honor of JP II's life being spared after an assasination attempt. JP II was known to have said, "One hand shot the gun while the other hand guided the bullet," that other hand being Mary. We are blessed to have 7

Remembering God in the Moments

As we were leaving on Wednesday I was grateful for the quick yet jolting reminder that I was entering into a pilgrimage. World Youth Day isn't so much a vacation as it is a pilgrimage, a trip that is done with specific purpose, in this case detaching from all those things that keep one distant from God and journeying ever closer to him and his will for one's life. I've never been away from my two little girls, Sydney (4) and Juliette (2) for so long. It was difficult to say goodbye, especially since we have heard of recent acts of terror in Europe. As I climbed into the car with tears in my eyes God granted me a moment of grace as I was reminded that, while I'm sure his will for my life is t

The Who, What, Where, When, Why’s of World Youth Day 2016

Greetings everyone! Whether you are a fellow young adult, a supporter of our world youth day trip, family, friends, or just a curios observer, thank you! Thank you for reading our World Youth Day blog and for all your prayers. All of us look forward to telling you about our pilgrimage as its happening. Here’s the basics: Who: Seven young adults from Rochester, MN are traveling. Some of us have been to a World Youth Day before (Dana Petricka, Jen Winkler, Beau Gazely, and Zach Rawson). Half of us work at Mayo (Jenny Helms, Jen Winkler, Suzanne Rawson). Two are youth ministers at Pax Christi (Dana Petricka, Zach Rawson). Two are nurses (Jenny Helms, Suzanne Rawson). Two are married (Zach and S

3 Reasons Young Adults Need to Read Amoris Laetitia

I have a secret…papal documents scare me… even though I’ve been in Catholic schools for my entire education. I have a B.S. in nursing, not theology, so I never bothered to try and read papal documents as I thought I wouldn’t be able to understand them. That all changed when I started attending Young Adult events 4 years ago. I was exposed to two different papal documents: Lumen Gentium during Faith & Sports Night, and St. Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Women during a women’s group. Walking through these documents with my peers I realized they were way more accessible than I thought! Since then I’ve read Humanae Vitae and several shorter documents related to theology of the body and the meanin