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Archives INSPIRE-d at World Youth Day

Aug. 17, 2016

By Father Bryan D. Stitt
World Youth Day chaplain



The Old City was packed.  This was the night before the Saturday/Sunday celebration in the field with millions of youth and Pope Francis.  In anticipation, Krakow was alive with World Youth Day pilgrims. 

What to do for our last free evening?

Thanks to Father Scott Belina, parochial vicar in Malone and co-chaplain for the pilgrimage, we decided to visit St. Florian’s Church.

St. Florian’s was the first parish assignment of Father Karol Wojtyla from 1949-1951 (29 years before becoming Pope John Paul), and according to George Weigel, it was in this parish that the seeds of World Youth Day first saw the light of day.

The eleven pilgrims in our group all agreed to the visit.

Eager to pray there, Father Belina and Marika Donders, director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese and coordinator of our group, arrived before the rest of us.

Upon arrival they realized that it was for more than just the connections to Pope Saint John Paul II that we were supposed to go to this church. 

Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Ministries was also there to shoot a new video segment.

Father Belina introduced himself, and Bishop Barron quickly responded: “I’m coming to your diocese!”
No news to us! 

We’ve been excited for the past couple years to have Bishop Barron keynoting our INSPIRE: Called to Love summit, but we were all very pleased to hear that he likewise was excited to be coming to Lake Placid in September.

Our visit outside the church had some noteworthy exchanges:
Leagon Carlin, our seminarian (Plattsburgh), spoke to the bishop about his presentation at the Josephinum last year.

Carter Pierce (Heuvelton) found out that like him, Bishop Barron studied at Catholic University of America. 
And when Kevin McCullouch (Watertown) mentioned that he was discerning his vocation, Bishop Barron quickly pointed back to the church saying, “Get in there and pray!” 

Our visit wrapped up getting to pray with Bishop Barron before my new favorite image of Wojtyla/JPII—clearly this wasn’t just a backdrop for his latest video; this was a personal pilgrimage to one of his heroes.

But what struck us most about this “chance” exchange in the busy streets of old Krakow was this:
We were 4000 miles from home with this great bishop 6000 miles from his L.A.--united.

We were united in our admiration for the great Saint John Paul.

We were united in our anticipation of the great INSPIRE event so many of us have registered for already.

And, most especially, we were united in our love of Jesus and His Holy Church. 

There and then it occurred to me, this is a great big Church in a very small world.

If you would like the opportunity to be INSPIREd by Bishop Barron, join us on September 25 at the Lake Placid Olympic Center for www.inspirecalledtolove.org where he will be the keynote speaker.  Registration is FREE.”

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