MANILA, August 31, 2015— For someone who has already visited Poland, Novalichez Bishop Antonio Tobias is urging young Filipinos to attend the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD) to better appreciate the religious freedom the faithful enjoys today.
According to Tobias, visiting Krakow—which will host the WYD 2016 from July 26 to 31—will not be complete without appreciating Poland’s spiritual heritage and paying homage to Polish saints Karol Wojtyla, Maximilian Kolbe and Faustina Kowalska.
Wojtyla served as Krakow’s Archbishop before he was elected to the papacy and became John Paul II. In 1985, he initiated the International Year of the Youth, which was referred to as the WYD the following year.
St. Maximilian Kolbe was also know for his martyrdom during the Nazi invasion. A Franciscan friar, he volunteered to die on behalf of a stranger at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Meanwhile, St. Faustina, born as Helena Kowalska, was regarded for starting the devotion to the Divine Mercy.
Tobias urged Filipino pilgrims to not miss visiting the Auschwitz Death Camp and the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, among other religious sites, while in Poland.
“In Poland, you will not only see Pope Francis but John Paul II and the other Polish saints. (You will learn) how the Polish people suffered from the Nazi occupation,” he said.
The prelate said the Polish spiritual heritage will teach young people to be more socially aware and active and to appreciate the freedom of religion they enjoy these days.
“Poland has a lot of similarities with the Philippines, except for persecution. (We are fortunate for it but it also urges young people) be involved in society,” he pointed out.
Tobias said he is accompanying 35 young representatives of the Diocese of Novalichez who are attending the WYD 2016 in Poland. Tobias said he has attended all WYDs except the WYD 2008 in Sydney, Australia.
The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth has already opened the pilgrims’ registration under the ECY-Philippines delegation. Submission of individual pilgrim application is already ongoing until September 28. (CBCPNews)