Seeing Pope Francis part of spiritual adventure
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | August 11, 2016|
Getting to see the Pope in Krakow, Poland, is one of the experiences Joanie Tyler can boast about for her summer of 2016.
The Haliburton County resident returned last week from World Youth Day.
The 18-year-old travelled with seven young people from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall for the massive Catholic gathering.
She flew out of Montreal on July 18 for the 16-day event that began with a week of Days in the Dioceses before the actual World Youth Day week.
Having travelled solo throughout Europe last summer, it was not a daunting experience for the local girl, but she said this was more of a pilgrimage than a holiday.
The group spent its first week living at a school in Lodz, where the girls slept on a classroom floor and used the physical education showers.
In the second week, they shifted to Krakow where Tyler stayed with a host family. Although the days were packed, they got to spend time in the morning and evening learning about the local culture, trying food and listening to music. Most of the time was spent with the family patriarch and matriarch, the grandparents.
Although they did not speak English, and Taylor did not speak Polish, they turned to technology, using a translator. When that failed, they reverted to good, old-fashioned sign language.
Wednesday, July 27, was the day Pope Francis came.
Tyler said they arrived 3.5 hours early and were overwhelmed by the crowds and the amount of security. With on-and-off rain, they raised tarps over their heads and made their way to the front of their section. Ninety minutes before the Pope was scheduled to arrive, people began standing, so they rose.
“Everybody was pretty excited … and then he came.”
She said it was a bit surreal to see the Popemobile drive by – as there were only about five rows of people in front of them – so Pope Francis was just 15 feet away.
“It was cool.”
That, however, was not the highlight of her trip. She said spending time with the people in her group and being a part of the Polish culture for 16 days were her lasting impressions.
“New friends, new experiences … and a strengthened faith,” Tyler said.
She wanted to thank the Minden and Haliburton churches for their support since, “I would have never been able to have had the amazing adventure of going to Poland without them She had a special thank you for Julie Grey, “who thought I would be inspired by going and got everything started for me.
“The journey became a pilgrimage for me as the experiences and the new people that I met changed who I am in different ways.
“Two words to describe the whole two weeks are spiritual adventure. This journey gives me direction that sends me off into my next adventure.”
Tyler will study child and youth work at Lambton College in Sarnia this fall.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.