Our Day in Sokolka

Today began with a journey to Sokolka for a number of organised activities. Upon arrival we were greeted by yet more friendly volunteers who welcomed us with flags and greeting signs. We started our day in Sokolka with a personal prayer and reflection at the Eucharistic miracle. The group knelt in silent prayer and reflection upon the miracle and it worked as a reminder of the power of the church. Following this we made our way to the open grass area in front of the church and we sat with all the other pilgrims we had met in Bialystok over the past two days. Once we were seated we were treated to a number of speeches, prayers and even a dance performance to prepare us for the Mass that followed. Again the Mass was delivered in numerous languages and incorporated all the travelling priests.

After the Mass there was an opportunity for worship and praise through song. A large choir began singing and it wasn’t long before the whole field of pilgrims had joined in and dancing broke out. We were then treated to yet more food and given the opportunity to rest and recover from the lively start to the day! Whilst lunch was taking place a small number of the group went back to the Eucharist Miracle for some private prayer and an opportunity to really reflect upon the spiritual aspect of the pilgrimage.

As lunch came to a close, music began and suddenly the field was filled with people dancing and singing. A group of pilgrims (and priests!) stood in the middle and soon everyone else formed circle around them and followed their movements, resulting in mass coordinated dance routines with all pilgrims interacting and dancing together. A particular highlight was watching the Cardiff sisters and seminarians dancing along to the YMCA!

Before we departed for our next destination we were called back to the church for one final adoration before the miracle and one final chance to privately pray. Following this we travelled to a site, that in English translates to Holy Waters. This was a place where large crosses stood on top of a hill over – looking the parish church and surrounding area. Each cross placed represented a different person, parish or pilgrimage with others representing saints and gospel stories. Once we arrived at this site there was yet more opportunity to spend time meeting other pilgrims and join in group games. Following this down time, we were treated to a telling of the passion of Christ through music and artwork. The story was recounted through an artist who creates her pictures in sand. The artwork and movement of the pictures was captivating and the accompanying music provided context and emotion to the story. So moved by the performance the crowd gave the performers a standing ovation.

All pilgrims were then invited to the field behind the church to enjoy campfires and to toast hotdogs. All pilgrims mixed and mingled whilst cooking their food and then songs and dances were exchanged. The atmosphere was one of joy and celebration, with every pilgrims being included and talking to new people from across the world.

To conclude the celebrations we followed all the other pilgrim groups to the hill of crosses. There was a special WYD cross unveiled and a blessing took place. As hymns were sung all pilgrims held hands and joined in the communal prayer and praise.

We had one final bus journey home for supper and then a much needed rest for the group after a day of numerous and exciting activities!