This year STLYA and about two million of our closest friends took a pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland for the fourteenth international celebration of World Youth Day.

A Brief History

World Youth Day began in 1986 in Rome, and now every 2 to 3 years, young people from around the world travel with the Pope to celebrate their faith, encounter Christ in the Church universal, and experience a different culture.

Polish native, Pope St. John Paul II is possibly best remembered for his initiation of World Youth Day.  JPII’s ministry and love for the youth began when he was a young priest working at St. Florian’s in Krakow and teaching ethics at both the Jagiellonian University and the Catholic University of Lubin. From these he formed the Rodzinka (little family) of about 20 young adults. This tight knit group delved into deep discussions about the world and their faith around bonfires after mass or on hiking trips through the mountains.

Such experiences led to JPII’s focus on the youth in his papacy and the creation of World Youth Day of which he is now the patron saint. He had a profound understanding of the value of young Catholics in the Church and began World Youth Day as a way to empower them and invite them to a deeper relationship with Jesus. His said this to young people at the 1995 World Youth Day in the Philippines:

 “You, young people, are especially called to become missionaries of this New Evangelization… You personally experience the anxieties of the present historical period, fraught with hope and doubt, in which it can at times be easy to lose the way that leads to the encounter with Christ. . . . The Church entrusts to young people the task of proclaiming to the world the joy which springs from having met Christ. Dear friends, allow yourselves to be drawn to Christ, accept his invitation to follow him.”

STLYA World Youth Day 2016 Schedule

We invite you to join us in spirit through our journey with Pope Francis to Pope St. John Paul II’s home of Krakow for this year’s World Youth Day.  You can see footage from our pilgrimage from our daily videos and Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts.

Monday, July 25th
STLYA arrive in Poland

Tuesday, July 26th
Day trip to visit Our Lady of Czestochowa
Opening Mass at Blonia Park

Wednesday, July 27th
Morning catechesis and cultural activities
Life Teen XLT Night of Mercy in Tauron Park

Thursday, July 28th
Morning catechesis and cultural activities
Welcoming ceremonies with Pope Francis in Blonia Park

Friday, July 29th
Morning catechesis and cultural activities
Sations of the Cross at Blonia Park

Saturday, July 30th
Pilgrimage to Campus Misericordiae
Vigil with Pope Francis

Sunday, July 31st
Final Mass in Campus Misericordiae
Krakow Tour

Monday, August 1st
Day trip to Auschwitz and Wadowice

Tuesday, August 2nd
STYLA depart for St. Louis

World Youth Day 2016

Theme: “Blessed are the merciful and they will be shown mercy”
Patron Saints: Pope Saint John Paul II and St. Faustina


“God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman”.
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.

Heavenly Father,
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong
and joy to those who are unhappy.
Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us
become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Faustina, pray for us.