World Youth Day

Between July 16 and August 7, approximately 660 staff and students from Sydney Catholic Schools attended WYD in Krakow, Poland; the homeland of WYD founder, Pope John Paul II.

After months of preparation, our 17 bus groups headed to Krakow via three main pilgrimages – the Holy Land, Saints of Italy and Prague Direct. Bethany College experienced the Saints of Italy pilgrimage with students from St Ursula’s and Holy Spirit Lakemba. Through the Saints of Italy pilgrimage, WYD pilgrims walked in the footsteps of the Saints of the Church, with a particular focus on the holy cathedrals and churches of Florence, Sienna, Assisi and Rome.  

During the pilgrimages, bus groups had the opportunity for daily mass with their bus chaplain and to come together as a pilgrim community on their journey to Krakow. These bonds were clearly evident when they all arrived in Krakow, ready to journey through WYD week.

WYD week in Krakow was an amazing experience of the worldwide church gathering in celebration and prayer. The Sydney Catholic Schools WYD pilgrims were swept up in the colour, joy and vibrancy of the week through the formal events, as well as the many informal festival gatherings throughout the city of Krakow. From the opening mass of approximately one million pilgrims in Blonia Park to the final mass of around three million at Campus Misericordiae, our pilgrims entered into the spirit of the week with great enthusiasm, openness and resilience. Many pilgrims spoke of their faith being inspired by the events of the week and the witness of the millions of faith filled young people around them.

The WYD pilgrimage concluded with a retreat within the mountains of Zakopane – a place of retreat often used by Pope John Paul II. This was a time of rest, prayer and reflection for pilgrims to begin to absorb and understand their WYD experiences. It was also a chance for bus groups to affirm and acknowledge the community they had created together over the previous three weeks of pilgrimage.

Personal insight by Janice Lewis, Year 10 student:
World Youth Day Krakow 2016 saw 17 Bethany girls along with myself on a three week pilgrimage that followed the footsteps of St John Paul II. Our journey to the city of mercy gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand the diversity and fellowship of the Catholic Church. It was a unique way to deepen my relationship with God, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of other young people from around the world. This life changing experience gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life, become connected to the world around me and understand how I can be a missionary of mercy. I experienced the presence of God in not only the festivals and celebrations that I attended but in the unique and charismatic people I met. This was an extraordinary life changing experience and it certainly won’t be my last world youth day, bring on Panama 2019!


Comments from other WYD Pilgrims from Bethany:

Claudia Allison (Year 10)


Jamie Lewis (Year 10)

We shared our faith with millions of people

Isabella Czarnecki (Year 10)

I will never forget it.

Holly Stansfield (Year 10)

Best experience, that i will certainly never forget. It was amazing to meet new people and be united with everyone around the world sharing in our faith.

Annabel Bennett (Year 10)

A once in a lifetime experience

Georgia Malaxos (Year 10)

Like nothing i have ever felt before.

Tara Lillicot (Year 11)

The best three weeks of my life. We became so close as a group and shared so many experiences we’ll never forget.

Jasmin Juncal (Year 11)

Life changing

Aylah West (Year 10)

An eye-opening experience that I will forever treasure

Chloe Allcorn (Year 10)

I am so grateful for the WYD experience and all the new friendships it has helped me create

Caitlin Micallef (Year 10)

You picture this amazing experience but it’s so much greater than you could ever imagine!

Adrianna Santos (Year 10)

It was amazing to be able to share my faith with people from all around the world.

Laura Mirabello (Teacher)

It was a phenomenal experience to see the girls grow over the three weeks. They were engaged and interested in their faith in a new, more active way. They commented to me that they were enjoying going to mass (we went once a day for the three weeks) more than they ever had before and that they were finding personalised meaning in the homilies. The spirit of WYD was infectious and it really is a once in a lifetime experience. The girls were beautifully behaved, representing their families, schools and community proudly.


To read more about the pilgrimage and see more photos, please access the official blog at


Laura Mirabello

Youth Ministry and Student Leadership Coordinator