Knights to Host International Site for English-Speaking Pilgrims at World Youth Day 2016


“Mercy Centre” at Tauron Arena Krákow will be among sites visited by Pope Francis

(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) – The Knights of Columbus will host the international English-language catechetical and youth festival site at World Youth Day from July 26-31. Tauron Arena Kraków will be the site of “Mercy Centre,” which will offer pilgrims an inspirational program of events in English as part of their World Youth Day 2016 experience in Poland.

Particularly catering to those who speak English as a first or second language, Mercy Centre will be open to all World Youth Day pilgrims, and will feature catechetical sessions led by Vatican-assigned bishops, concerts featuring globally-renowned musicians, talks by prominent Catholic speakers, witnesses to persecution of the Church in the Middle East, and a series of exhibits and liturgical celebrations.

“Pope Francis has declared mercy a key theme both for this year and for World Youth Day,'” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “This is especially appropriate given the selection of Krákow as host city, since this is where devotion to Divine Mercy was born, and where St. John Paul II during his time there grew in this devotion, which became a major theme of his pontificate as well. Mercy Centre is thus perfectly situated to help pilgrims understand that Christian life must be an experience of receiving mercy from God, and giving it also to our neighbors in the form of love, charity and forgiveness.”


On Wednesday, July 27, programming will include a “Night of Mercy” Youth Festival with performances by eight-time Grammy nominee Matt Maher, Dove Award nominee Audrey Assad as well as talks by Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries and LifeTeen’s Joel Stepanek. The evening will conclude with the musical performance “I Believe in Mercy” by the Cenacolo Community.

Mercy Centre pilgrims will also have the opportunity to encounter holiness through Krakow’s own saints who inspired a young Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, to pursue his vocation. Relics of several Polish saints, beloved by John Paul II, will be available for veneration. Throughout the week, the centre will feature a “Vocation Café” and exhibit on the diocesan priesthood, as well as other exhibits on topics such as Divine Mercy, the history of Christianity in Poland, St. John Paul II and the Solidarity Movement, and Auschwitz.

Joining the Knights of Columbus as co-sponsors of the Mercy Centre are the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, the religious congregation best known for promoting the message of Divine Mercy received by the 20th-century Polish nun of the same order St. Faustina Kowalska; the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.; and the Sisters of Life, a New York-based religious community of women that works to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.

Also partnering with the Knights at the Mercy Centre are Salt + Light Television, Holy Cross Family Ministries, the Dominican Liturgical Institute, the National Conference of Religious Vocations Directors (NCRVD) and the National Council of Diocesan Vocations Directors (NCDVD). The bishops’ conferences of the United States, Canada and Australia will also host their national gatherings at the Mercy Centre.

Tauron Arena Kraków is located adjacent to the Polish Aviators Park five kilometers east of Krakow’s Main Square. It is one of the largest entertainment and sports venues in Poland, with seating for more than 20,000. Pope Francis will hold his final meeting in Krákow with World Youth Day Volunteers at the Mercy Centre at Tauron Arena Kraków on Sunday, July 31.

For more information and a complete listing of programming, visit or follow #WYDMercyCentre #kofcwithfrancis on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


WYD 2016 Schedule & Dates Announced

World Youth DayThe exact dates for World Youth Day 2016 have been announced.  Here is the tentative schedule:

Monday, July 25 – arrival and accommodation in Krakow

Tuesday, July 26 – official opening of the 31st WYD presided by the Metropolitan of Krakow,

Wednesday, July 27 – catechesis for participants, meetings in language groups,

Thursday, July 28 – catechesis continued, arrival of Pope Francis and his welcoming,

Friday, July 29 – catechesis continued, Stations of the Cross

Saturday, July 30 – evening vigil with the Holy Father,

Sunday, July 31 – central event – Eucharist with Pope Francis concluding WYD. A host for next WYD will be announced.  

“Days in the Diocese” will precede these events.  More information will be forthcoming.  

And for young people who might be visiting Rome on a Friday, be sure to gather with those from San Lorenzo Centre for prayer with the World Youth Day Cross in Saint Peter’s Square.



Themes Announced for Next 3 World Youth Days


Occasionally overlooked is the fact that although the International World Youth Day celebrations are held every 3 years, World Youth Day is actually celebrated on a more regional or local level every year.  

Events are held in various cities that are bit smaller, but no less enthusiastic, than those held every three years.  According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis has just released the themes of the next three World Youth Days, all of which are taken from the Beatitudes:

29th World Youth Day, 2014
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).

30th World Youth Day, 2015
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8)

31st World Youth Day, 2016 (Krakow)
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7)

The one in Krakow will probably draw the most attention, but the others should be of great interest as well.  Look for an event in your are in 2014 or 2015.  Almost every Diocese will have some sort of recognition of World Youth Day.


Masses held monthly in Krakow for World Youth Day 2016

A tradition that begin prior to World Youth Day in 2013 was to pray for the success of the World Youth Day activities.  This tradition continues in Krakow, Poland, site of World Youth Day in 2016.  A Mass is offered on the 16th of every month at Holy Cross Church.  The significance of the date is that on October 16, 1978 Karol Wotyla was elected Pope and became Pope John Paul II.

The church is located at the foot of Wawel Castle, behind the Academy of Music. The Polish spelling is Kosciol Swetego Kryza and the street address is sw.Krzysa 23, Krakow.  Click here for their official website.  The website–and the Mass–is in Polish.  Still, it would be great to attend one of these Masses if you happen to be in Krakow on the 16th of any month.


Shrines to Blessed John Paul II around the world


Photo of Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II in the early days of his papacy

For many, he was the only Pope they knew.  For others, his youthful vigor and willingness to reach out to all people and, indeed, travel the world to evangelize was something they had not seen before.  His love for young people is evidenced in the success of World Youth Day, which he began and became a world-wide success.  As one of the longest reigning Popes, it is sometimes easy to forget how young and active he was when he first took office.  Too often the images we see are of his later years when physical limitations took their toll while his mind remained as sharp and resolute as ever.  

With the prospect of Sainthood drawing near, his name will be in the news once again.  But even before that event we have evidence of the great love and admiration for him in the many shrines dedicated to him throughout the world.  

One of the most significant is the Shrine of Blessed John Paul II in Washington, DC.  After having some tough times getting started it was sold to the Knights of Columbus in 2012 and with their financial and organizational might we expect it will become one of the most visited shrines in the world.

Other shrines may have garnered less publicity but have an interesting story nonetheless.  An example would be the simple shrine in Bataan, the Philippines.  It was here that Pope John Paul II came in 1981 to celebrate Mass in a remote refugee camp populated with an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians (known as “the boat people”) who had fled here for safety in the late 1970’s.  Many of these people were not Christian and did not even know who he was, but the message of hope buoyed their spirits.  This is a small shrine and we are not aware of a website for the shrine.

Of course, as expected, there is a shrine to him in his native Poland in the city of Krakow.  The new John Paul II Cultural Center in Krakow has just been completed and is still being staffed.  Since the next World Youth Day in 2016 will be in Krakow this is sure to be one of the main attractions.

 Is there a Shrine to Pope John Paul II we haven’t mentioned?  Please let us know and we will add it or you can post it here yourself.