This summer, Charity Jamison ’18 (nursing major) led a group of students to Kraków, Poland to celebrate 2016 World Youth Day with nearly three million fellow pilgrims.
Jamison, a San Damiano Scholar, made the trip—recruiting fellow Knights to go and covering the expenses—her sophomore service project with the San Damiano Scholars Program for Church Leadership. Each year, sophomores in the program are charged with creating a service project that will benefit an outside charity or the Marian University community.
Jamison chose World Youth Day because she saw it as an incredible opportunity to not only enrich her own faith, but also help others experience the same.
“If you really need a spark in your faith, if you need something to draw you deeper, than this pilgrimage is perfect for you,” Jamison said.
Mark Erdosy, executive director of church relations and the San Damiano Scholars Program for Church Leadership, traveled with the group and described the incredible faith witnessed and experienced.
“Being at the closing Mass was like having a glimpse into what heaven will be like, people from every continent gathered together around the common table to give praise and thanksgiving to God for all that God has done, is doing, and will do,” Erdosy said. “The music was beautiful as it lifted our spirits and united our voices, regardless of language to praise God.”
Along with the opportunity to see and pray with Pope Francis, the location also gave the world’s youth a chance to explore another pope’s—St. John Paul II—hometown and see the places where he lived as a parish priest, received his Baptism, and took his first Communion.
“I have a really close friend in John Paul II and he can lead me closer to God,” Jamison said. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact seeing where he lived would have on me. It was an unexpected grace of the trip.”
The next World Youth Day will be held in Panama in 2019 and Jamison encourages all students to consider attending.
“The Church is so alive in the young age group. This was a wakeup call to how large the universal church is and how much unity there is in the Church,” Jamison said. “You feel so small, and yet you feel so large because you know that you are all there for the same reason and you know that all of these people are Catholics and share the same beliefs with you no matter their language or country.”