CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Adventures in Poland prior to World Youth Day

HONG KONG (SE): The Hong Kong diocesan delegation to the World Youth Day took part in a variety of preparation activities prior to take off after being commissioned by John Cardinal Tong Hon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on July 10.

The delegation gathered on July 15 at Chek Lap Kok Airport for a blessing ceremony immediately prior to departure for Poland.

The 80-strong delegation was split into two, with one group travelling through Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and the other through Munich, Germany, before coming together again in Poland.

The Helsinki group attended a Mass celebrated by the leader of the delegation, Father Paul Kam Po-wai, and spiritual adviser, Father Dominique Mukonda Kananga, at St. Henry’s Cathedral.

Father Kam reminded the group that World Youth Day is a good chance for Catholic people to reflect on their mission and how they can live it out in their lives.

The group transiting through Munich attended a Mass at the airport celebrated by their spiritual adviser, Father Peter Choy Wai-man, who encouraged them to remember the meaning of going on pilgrimage.

He said pilgrims often experience unexpected and deep changes through the guidance of the Lord, even though they may have some worries when they set out.

The team then boarded a plane from Munich to Gdsk, Poland, where it visited the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The basilica is one of the largest brick Gothic buildings in Europe, but was seriously damaged during World War II and most parts of the building have been reconstructed since 1946.

A change of pace also saw the group heading off for a bit of shopping at the Holiday Market in the old city region.

The other group arrived in Gdańsk from Helsinki and after a night’s rest at a retreat house, the reunited delegation visited the European Solidarity Centre, a museum devoted to the memory of the Solidarity Movement—the Polish trade union resistance against oppression under the Communist dictatorship in the 1980s.

It also carries displays depicting other opposition movements in Communist Eastern Europe.

The Kung Kao Po reported that the delegation was deeply moved by the history, as the Polish people were supported by the Catholic Church both materially and spiritually.

The successful peaceful resistance from the Polish people and the high numbers who paid for their dream of freedom with their blood made a deep impression on the Hong Kong delegation, especially during a violent repression of resistance at Elbląg in 1970.

Pope John Paul II was credited with bringing spiritual inspiration to the Polish people and being a major catalyst for the peaceful revolution, which finally led to the downfall of the Communist regime in his native country in 1989.

The World Youth Day delegation from Hong Kong then went on retreat for three days as part of its preparation for the main event, which was officially opened in Kraków on July 26.

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