Diocesan youth join Pope in Krakow

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The Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr. Donal McKeown has led 60 young people from the Derry Diocese on a global pilgrimage to Krakow.

Young people from throughout the diocese took part in the trip, joining a massive gathering of 1.6m young people to celebrate World Youth Day in the Polish city last Saturday.

The Derry group included Maura Garrihy, Diocesan Youth Minister and Emmet Thompson, Pastoral Youth Ministry Leader for the Parish of Templemore.

A vigil held on Saturday night in Krakow, was the focal point of an 11-day pilgrimage to Poland undertaken by the Derry group.

Emmet Thompson said: “We started our World Youth Day pilgrimage in Katowice where we participated in Days in the Diocese, before then travelling to Krakow where we spent one week.

“We joined over 1.6 million young people from across the world to celebrate our faith, and to go deeper in our friendship with Jesus. 187 countries were represented- all united by our Catholic faith.”

On World Youth Day, Pope Francis I celebrated Mass in a meadow outside Krakow, and he told those gathered: “We are God’s beloved children, always. Not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me.

“God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.”