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Poland: thousands of final-year students on a pilgrimage to Jasna Gora. Initiatives as part of the WYD

“My pilgrimage to Jasna Gora helped me conquer my fears before my final-year exams and made me understand the meaning of that exam”, says Damian from Kolo, a town in central Poland, and one of the thousands of students who seek assistance from the Black Madonna of Czestochowa before they get their diploma. Last year, one student out of two (130 thousand in diocesan groups alone) went to pray in front of the icon of Poland’s most worshipped Virgin before they took their final secondary-school exam. In March, students went on 18 diocesan pilgrimages. This year, the pilgrimages that are currently going on in the run-up to the first final-year exam due in May are part of the preparations for the Cracow WYD, so the password chosen by several groups is actually the slogan of the great July event: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. “Pilgrimage is a good opportunity to encourage young people to make the most of the WYD, even more so as many meetings will be attended by leaders of diocesan committees in charge of preparing the World Youth Day”, states don Artur Kasprzycki, director of the youth pastoral service in the deanship of Kluczbork of the diocese of Opole. But groups keen on thanking for the Christianisation of Poland are also coming to Czestochowa: in mid-April, the Church will celebrate the 1050th anniversary.

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