For this purpose, I knew I had to get on to Instagram and get fluent in it fast. Snapchat however, was a bridge too far. Maybe for WYD Panama in 2019 I will consider it.
Instagram turned out to be a good decision. Far too many of the blogs that started petered out, and most of the Twitter feeds didn't feature the pilgrim groups I was most interested in.
The downside is that most of the content on Instagram doesn't make it into internet search engines, so I can't share the best bits with you visually. All I can do is tell you which hashtags and handles to go looking for.
The following blogs were amazing:
The Northern Territory pilgrims did a very good job of sharing their pilgrimage in photos, video and text, until the WYD opening Mass.
The Cairns pilgrims took it in turns to write about their experiences and provided lots of photos.
The Maitland Newcastle pilgrims did an excellent job in not only writing and sharing photos, but getting quotes from each other about each day's experiences.
This blog was particularly good until his group got to Krakow, then it stopped. Here's hoping he will do the rest now that he is back home, but seminary studies may prevent that.
Finding the right hashtags to follow was an art in itself.
#parrawyd via Instagram showed heartwarming pictures of the work the pilgrims did in the Philippines before heading off to Poland.
#AussiePilgrims and #AussiePilgrim were being used by more than just World Youth Day pilgrims, but it was a good place to find them in order to start following them.
#MNpilgrims for Maitland Newcastle pilgrims was well used
#WYD2016 was global and #WYD_en was for English speaking pilgrims.
#dbbwyd was for the diocese of Broken Bay, and they used a series of pre-arranged suffixes that worked very well. For example the pilgrims going through the Holy Land used #dbbwyd_holyland, for Italy #dbbwyd_italy, for Greece #dbbwyd_greece and for those going direct to Poland, #dbbwyd_poland. those who and there were daily themes like #dbbwyd_friends and #dbbwyd_miracles. By using those daily theme hashtags (see below) you can still journey with the pilgrims well after the event.
One thing I soon discovered via Instagram was how powerful a very short video-clip could be.
Photos are great, but nothing beats moving visuals together with sound to make you feel like you are with them on the journey.
The clips that made the most impression were two from #dbbwyd_holyland, the first a panorama shot of Mass on a boat in the Sea of Galilee and the second another panorama shot in the Church of the Transfiguration while that Gospel passage was being read out during a pilgrim Mass.
Other memorable clips recorded the wonderful singing and dancing by African pilgrims as they waited to get in to see the various shrines. Clips like that, and ones on the long walk to Campus Misericordiae took me directly back to my own WYD Sydney memories.
Every so often a little bit of a homily or part of a catechesis was shared by video-clip. My all time favourite clip is at one of the WYD catechesis sessions in a big tent where the pilgrims are singing and doing the actions to a song (which includes hopping like a kangaroo) and where Stevo the cuddly crocodile mascot of the Cairns pilgrims is joining in the fun.
I deeply appreciated everyone who took the time to tag their Instagram photos with where they were, and wrote a line or two about the context of the photo and what they thought and felt.
Top of the Pops just has to be archie.will, the handle for Archbishop William Goh of Singapore. He usually posted twice a day on Instagram during WYD, and each photo was accompanied by his written thoughts. He has the heart of a true shepherd. Applause please...He made the decision to leave the comforts of the hotel where the clerics were staying and to join his young people on the floor of the gymnasium.
Coming a close second is cairnswyd16. This is where you will meet Stevo, and find an excellent record of the pilgrimage in both photos and video. You are guaranteed smiles and chuckles here.
tooniewyd was brilliant too, and had the best coverage of Parramatta diocese's mission to the Philippines which they did first before going to Poland. Inspiring stuff.
mnnewstoday had very good WYD coverage too, with lots of video clips. Good on you, Maitland Newcastle pilgrims!
cym_perth (Catholic Youth Ministry Perth) is well worth a look too.
Of course I am biased towards cybbaus (Catholic Youth Broken Bay) but they did a truly excellent job of sharing the journey via Instagram with us back home.
There were also some outstanding young pilgrims with individual Instagram accounts that have real talent not only in photography but also in tagging and sharing their pilgrim experiences along the way. I take my cap off to cap_skin, sylvia_rose_99 and hannahhh_williams in particular.
The mainstream media largely ignored World Youth Day Krakow. But just like when Jesus was on His way into Jerusalem for His final Passover and when people told Him to stop His followers ringing out their Hosannas and He replied, 'If these keep silent, the stones will cry out' Luke 19:40 - the various social media channels got the news out - and probably got it out more effectively than the mainstream media.
Many of the sights and sounds of WYD Krakow brought back vivid memories for me from WYD Sydney, and I'm very grateful for that.
Seeing so many happy young people exploring and living out their faith was a wonderful gift, as were the photographs of the beautiful churches where they celebrated Mass and venerated the lives of the Saints who lived and ministered in those places.
World Youth Day gives us the clearest glimpse of what the unity in diversity of heaven will be like, and the power of the merciful Love that makes it all possible. Thanks be to God for such a gift, and for St John Paul II who was inspired to initiate it.
Extraordinary seeds of grace have been planted in individual souls, and in the diocesan relationships forged through pilgrimage. Now it is up to us to intercede that these seeds of grace grow and fulfill God's complete purpose for them.
Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us
St John Paul II, pray for us
St Faustina, pray for us
St Maximillian Kolbe, pray for us
St Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us