Pope Francis visited Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, just three days after the 95-pilgrim group from Los Angeles made the pilgrimage to venerate the Black Madonna, including Teresa Chu a second grade teacher at Nativity Catholic School in El Monte.

“I think it’s so beautiful when everyone is praying the same prayer but in different language — we’re all connected through faith — which calls to our universal church,” said Chu.

Chu journeyed to Sydney for WYD in 2008 with Pope Benedict XVI. Her pilgrimage to Krakow marks her second WYD experience.

“I have been saving for this pilgrimage since the location was announced in Rio three years ago,” said Chu. “It’s a big financial commitment, but I trust God will always give me what I need.”  

She is looking forward to the announcement of the next WYD location at the Saturday night vigil with Pope Francis.  

Chu was in high spirits despite heavy rain and being one of the hundreds of pilgrims who weren’t able to access the location of the welcome prayer service due to crowd control issues.

More than a half million pilgrims cheered, danced and sang in the rain as they awaited the arrival of Pope Francis at B≈Çonia Park. Pilgrims from L.A. traded California lanyards and key chains with pilgrims from all over the world. They watched via livestream and chanted “Papa Francesco, Papa Francesco” as Pope Francis made his way through Krakow to the park on a public tram and popemobile.

At the park, Pope Francis, who registered for the event as its first participant, was presented with a special white version of the official WYD pilgrim backpack.

Pope Francis reminded the young people that they are the “face of mercy” and encouraged them to dream Jul 28. He said that when we speak of mercy, we speak of “opportunity, future, commitment, trust, openness, hospitality, compassion and dreams.”

Pope Francis asked everyone to join in prayer to ask the Lord to “launch us on the adventure of helping the poor, those who feel lonely and abandoned, or no longer find meaning in their lives.”

Adrian Marquez is the Director of Media Relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a WYD 2016 pilgrim.