Senior advertising major Joanna Klisiewicz was able to see some of her family that she had in Krakow. The students also visited the tragic site of Auschwitz, one of the Nazi concentration camps.
The third week of the trip took the students and priest to Cologne, Germany, where World Youth Day took place at Marion Fields.
World Youth Day is a one week event that takes place every few years. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to celebrate and worship together.
“At this particular Youth Day, there were an estimated 1.2 million people there,” said junior occupational therapy major Elizabeth Rider.
“It was good and bad that there were so many people,” Kim Aiksnoras, a senior physical therapy major, said. “I got lost trying to find our group’s camp, but in the process, I met so many people while asking how to get back.”
“Seeing so many people was amazing,” said Dan Shea, a junior small business and entrepreneurship major. “But it was also distracting, and in the train station, there seemed to be negative space between people in the cars.”
The last two days of World Youth Day were for vigil, mass and concluding celebrations led by the pope.
“It’s funny how it worked out that the new pope is from Germany,” Rider said. It was great to see him in his home country.”
The group also visited the Cologne Cathedral, where the tomb of the Three Kings is located, while they participated in World Youth Day.
For the Quinnipiac pilgrims, coming home was a welcome event. But for some, it was back to business.
“We were dropped off in the parking lot at Quinnipiac, and I headed to my dorm in Complex,” Shea said.
“I’m an Orientation Leader, so I had to be back at school two days later,” Rider said.
Looking back on the trip, the lessons learned are different.
Kristin Wedekin, a senior finance major, said, “World Youth Day is what drew my attention initially. I had always wanted to experience that. I’ve never had the chance to get to know so many people our age from different countries on such a personal level. I learned the most from them and how they take religion differently than we do.”
“I hoped that the pilgrimage would deepen my spirituality, and allow me to take a break from the rest of my life,” Rider said. “I didn’t know why I needed to be there, but I knew I needed to go.”
Even Father Jonathan Kalisch, who has done the pilgrimage before, had reason for the trip.
“I wanted to foster individual and community spiritual growth, he said. “Through the strengthening, maybe we can build a greater community on campus.”