World Youth Day is not only a meeting with the Holy Father and a time for prayer, but also a great festival of joy and youth, bringing together people from all over the world. It is an encounter of different nationalities, cultures and languages; this mixture is one of the highlights of the event, which has for more than thirty years continued to attract young people from around the globe.
A smaller-scale exotic meeting is currently underway in the vicinity of Warsaw. The parishes in Legionowo (including the Parish Church of St. John Cantius and the Church of Our Lady of Fatima) have for several days hosted groups of guests arriving from the Philippines. Everywhere they go, they are greeted and welcomed with great affection.
What are their first impressions upon arrival in Poland? “Very positive. You can say that the Filipinos are delighted with our country. They have tasted and come to like the sour rye soup (żurek) and the cheesecake, but they really praise whatever they are greeted with and are willing to sample new food,” says Aleteia Marta Kwaśniewska, the parish coordinator of Legionowo area.
The Filipinos have been staying in Legionowo since Saturday and, as the volunteers from the region note, continue to ask a lot of questions, but are also eager to learn some basic phrases in Polish. “‘Good morning, yes, thank you, hello, and please’ have already been polished to perfection,” says Kwaśniewska.
I want to know what surprises the guests from the Philippines in Poland. “So far, the biggest surprise is that there is WiFi in every home and also that you can have a meal on the train. They say also that — to their taste — there are lots of cars in Poland,” I hear as answers.
The Days in the Dioceses, which are underway, is a time to get familiar with local attractions, visit interesting places in Poland, get to know Polish culture, music, art, and customs.
“The program includes, of course, Holy Masses in parishes and church services, but also activities such as barbecues, evening meetings with families and sightseeing tours of Warsaw,” lists Marta Kwaśniewska. On Tuesday, a group that was one of the first to arrive in Poland made a trip to Płock because of the ties of the city with St. Faustina.
A Polish-Filipino polonaise
On Wednesday the parish of St. John Cantius will host a Holy Mass (the choir has been having rehearsals preparing for it for the past few days), followed by a picnic in the Arena Legionowo, where the Filipinos will be able to learn how … to dance the polonaise. On Thursday they will have a chance to watch an ADONAJ theater play titled Returns and see a show of light and sound. On Saturday they will take part in a sports tournament, while on Sunday they will visit a Slavic settlement set up specifically for the occasion.
In the settlement they will be able to try their hand at baking traditional Slavic pastries, making butter, producing paper, and archery. Everything will culminate with an evening worship at 8 pm in the Church of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
How do the guests respond to Polish culture, music and art? “The reactions are extremely positive, as are their reactions to everything really (laughter). The Filipinos are very open, have a positive approach, ask lots of questions, and above all, try to understand what we tell them,” Marta Kwaśniewska tells Aleteia.
Who came up with the idea that young people from the distant Philippines should go to Poland? “Our guests include young people whose parents were once WYD participants and said that their children simply must take part in this event,” reports the parish coordinator. These are not the only exotic guests in the area, though. A group from India are staying in neighboring Choszczówka, part of Legionowo district.
* You can follow what the pilgrims from the Philippines do in Poland at the fanpage WYD 2016 Region Legionowski or at #sdmlwo