Can't travel to Poland for World Youth Day? Travel to D.C. instead

Men religious and other pilgrims walk along a street on July 24 in Krakow, Poland, ahead of World youth Day. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Thousands of young adults are expected to gather on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington on July 30 for "Krakow in the Capital."

Jonathan Lewis, director of young adult ministry and evangelization for the Archdiocese of Washington and organizer of the event, said it is a response to the call Pope Francis made that the church go out into the margins and invite people in.

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In this way, "we are bringing the experience of World Youth Day to the capital," he told Catholic News Service. Lewis, 30, said he hoped the one-day U.S. experience would provide many of the key transformative experiences of World Youth Day, taking place from June 26-31 in Krakow, Poland.

That day in Krakow, Pope Francis' schedule will include visiting the Divine Mercy Shrine, hearing confessions of young people there and celebrating Mass in the St. John Paul II Shrine.

In Washington, events are to run from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time and will include Polish food and music, cultural traditions, a concert and religious devotions just as eucharistic adoration, confession, opportunities for catechesis and Stations of the Cross. Sixteen speakers will address the crowd, drawing on the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the theme of their talks. Mass will be celebrated.

Besides Catholic University, other co-hosts include the Washington and Baltimore archdioceses; the dioceses of Arlington, Virginia, and Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia; the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; the St. John Paul II Shrine; the Dominican House of Studies; the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington; and the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland.

"We have a line of a really great engaging, inspiring speakers so I hope people take advantage of these catechesis opportunities," said Lisa Lytwyn, 29, of Bethesda, Maryland. She is a campus minister at the University of Maryland Catholic Student Center.

There will be a candle-lit Stations of the Cross on the lawn of the St. John Paul II shrine, located just off the Catholic University campus. Some of the day's events also will be hosted at the shrine.

Patrick Kelly, the shrine's executive director, told CNS that the permanent exhibit "A Gift of Love" on the Life of St. John Paul II also will be open.

The Polish pope "had a gift for reaching young people and we look to his example as we invite young adults to encounter Jesus Christ through this event and by visiting the shrine," said Kelly.

Lewis said "Krakow in the Capital" would be an opportunity for young people "to connect with the international experience of church life" at a time when "so often many young adults feel alone or isolated in their stage of life or a particular parish community. They feel that there are not a lot of people like them."

"What a powerful, mountain-top transfiguration type moment to come together side by side with over a thousand peers in prayer and catechesis. In celebration of the joy of the Gospel that Pope Francis continues to point us toward," he added

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