After three years of planning, World Youth Day 2016 begins this week in Kraków. Organizers expect the event will draw more than two million people from around the world. Poland’s archdioceses and dioceses have pledged to offer accommodations for over 373,000 foreign visitors. The festive gathering of youth and young adults represents the chance to share in prayer, worship, and a celebration of the Catholic faith. From Pope Francis to dancing nuns, Catholic leaders will welcome everyone in attendance.
The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in tiny Fort Scott, Kansas honors unsung heroes, who can serve as role models for everyone. I recently discovered the center while researching Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who rescued 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto. In many ways, the center is a direct result of the school history project that became a high school play inspired by the life of Irena Sendler. In 2013, the Center opened a branch in Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Poland, the home city of Irena Sendler, to spread its teaching to Europe. Count me a fan.
Happy Mother’s Day to Irena Sendler, a Catholic Pole, who smuggled some 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, from 1939-1943. She was assisted by about two dozen other members of Zegota, the Polish underground, but she alone knew the identities and locations of each child. When arrested and tortured by the Germans, she never revealed a single name. She barely escaped execution by firing squad, when members of Zegota bribed a German guard at the last minute. She passed away on May 12, 2008, at the age of 98. Continue reading