U.S. Military Catholics attend Mass en route to World Youth Day

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Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio celebrates Mass July 25 in Poland (Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA photo)
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio celebrates Mass July 25 in Czestochowa, Poland (Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA photo)

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio is in Poland this week for World Youth Day festivities alongside 20 pilgrims from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. The pilgrims are active duty military personnel stationed stateside and in Europe in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Their Days in the Diocese festivities — a precursor to World Youth Day — brought them to Poland’s Military Institute of Technology in Warsaw, Poland. It began with Mass at the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army July 24 followed by Mass at the famous Jasna Gora Sanctuary of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa today. Archbishop Broglio celebrated Mass and delivered the homily in English and French.

“We have come to the Black Madonna, because Mary teaches us to be open to the will of God and that openness puts us squarely on the road to lasting peace,” he said. “Thus renewed by these days of pilgrimage, we no longer walk in the shadows, but are enabled to show the mercy we have received.”

He reflected on Mary’s ‘fiat’ at the Annunciation, calling it one of simplicity and obedience.

“She knew how to open herself to God’s action, without trying to control, to dominate, or to busy herself about many details. Note well that she did not ask: what do I have to do?, but rather, in my situation, how will this come about?” the archbishop noted.

“It is a challenge to listen in our contemporary world. Silence is often absent,” he continued. “In our US military communities the shared space of the chapel does not lend itself to prayer before or after Mass. Our lives are filled with instantaneous communication: the beeps of phones, computers, and other devices, the blare of the television or piped music. It is almost as if we abhor silence. Yet it is so essential in order for us to hear the voice of God.”

The archbishop prayed that the following days in Poland be a time of listening. The pilgrims will visit a museum at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw July 26 and will stop at Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum July 27. The pontiff will visit the same site two days later.

The papal welcome July 28 will include Second Lieutenant Christopher Hoffman, a recent graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He will carry the U.S. flag. Later that day Archbishop Broglio will celebrate a Mass at the Pope Saint John Paul II Sanctuary for all WYD 2016 pilgrims with any connection to the U.S. Military.

America’s military pilgrims will stay at local military housing and join pilgrims across the globe July 28-30 for mornings of catechesis and afternoons in Festival of Faith activities, including cultural exchange, prayer, and visits to holy sites during World Youth Day.

Dr. Mark Moitoza, D. Min., AMS Vice-Chancellor for Evangelization, praised the opportunities the Polish Military Ordinariate are affording the world’s military pilgrims. An inter-cultural exchange among service members from 11 NATO countries allowed sharing how their devotion to the Catholic faith informs their mission to serve and protect.

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