It is July 27 and I am leaving this evening to join the Rockville Centre pilgrims gathered in Krakow ready to greet the Holy Father. Bishops Brennan, Nelson and Andrzej are already in Poland. Father Joe Fitzgerald, aided by two of the Polish Benedictine Sisters from St. Joseph Villa in Greenlawn, has brought a group of young men discerning a possible vocation to priesthood. Between the Marianists, the Diocese and special groups there are about 360 young men and women from Long Island at World Youth Day.

From the emails Bishop Brennan is sending me I can tell there is a great excitement in the air and a spirit of hope and joy that springs from the prayers of the pilgrims, is nourished by the daily Eucharist and solidified by the community of common faith that are the hallmarks of every World Youth Day I have been privileged to join.

May I ask a very simple but very sincere request from all of you who read this blog? I have been praying over the theme of the WYD (Blessed are the merciful for they shall attain mercy). I do not want to disappoint the young people when I speak to them there. Would you each just say a prayer — an Our Father, a Hail Mary, a Glory Be or any other prayer — to help me? The Holy Father will be an inspiration for us all. The adults will be ever present to the ones who have come from schools and colleges and the workplace in our villages and parishes.

May they be the witnesses we all need to counter the forces of evil and the promoters of division and violence. May the Lord make them in these days committed instruments of His peace, a peace and joy they will bring back home to all of us.