26 Jul 2016
WYD blog - Sosnowiec
Sosnowiec – days four and five
After a hectic couple of days it was nice to relax a little on Sunday morning and spend some time with our host families. We all gathered for 11am Mass in the beautiful 18th century St Catherine’s Church with Archbishop Wilson presiding and giving a moving homily about an Auschwitz survivor. Translated by Fr Christopher, it received loud applause from the congregation.
Once again, the talented young musicians enhanced the liturgy and at the conclusion of Mass there was a festive atmosphere in the church as some of the Ecuador and French pilgrims joined the choir. The same occurred later in the evening after Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the parish priests leading the clapping and singing.
We enjoyed a lingering lunch (soup, main course and two desserts) with our host family and their relatives and in the evening the parish held a festival in the front of the presbytery next to the church for pilgrims and their families. The warm, balmy evening didn’t stop the young people and children from dancing while the locals watched on and served delicious Polish cakes and juice.
Walking back to the ‘White House’ we reflected on how lucky we were to stay in such a charming village as opposed to the city where the atmosphere would have been quite different. The warmth, kindness and generosity of our hosts, the volunteers and the parish was quite overwhelming and on our final gathering at Mass on Monday morning there were plenty of tears, including from Fathers Peter and Paul. In his homily, Father Harold from Whyalla put it beautifully when he said even the sky, which had suddenly turned grey and cloudy, looked like it was about to cry. He spoke of the Gospel message of service and how our hosts had displayed this in the truest sense and that’s why it was so hard to say goodbye.
This was certainly the case with our host family who couldn’t do enough to help us – from rising at 4.30am to put breakfast on the bench before we left for our pilgrimage, to washing clothes by hand (which I didn’t realise until after we had left). We exchanged gifts - Dziadzia (grandpa) proudly wore his Australian cap and gave us the Aussie ‘thumb up’, but he was visibly upset about our departure and he and the rest of the family were there in the pouring rain with the other hosts, volunteers and priests when our bus left the churchyard a little later. There were many similar stories of hospitality from other pilgrims and the whole experience was testament to the value of the Days in the Diocese program.
The bus trip to Krakow was a pretty silent affair with most people sleeping and others reflecting on the friendship, faith and love they had just shared.