Music, laughter, and passion for Jesus

by Alyssa Gapinksi

North Texas Catholic contributor

A view of the festivities at Blonia Park during World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland July 28. (Photo by Alyssa Gapinski)
Pilgrims attend the Way of the Cross at Blonia Park during World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland July 29. (CNS photo/David W. Cerny, Reuters)

Growing up, I was always obsessed with the hippie generation and Woodstock. I always said that if I could go back to any point in history, it would be to the first Woodstock music festival in 1969.

My obsession with the hippie culture began in the second grade when I found a brightly-colored Halloween costume that had a bandana and peace sign necklace. For the next four Halloweens I would continue to dress up as a hippie and my daily jewelry usually included either a peace sign necklace or bracelet. 

Alyssa Gapinski

It wasn't until seventh grade that my peace sign addiction waned, yet my love of the culture did not. In school, I learned more about the ‘60s and ‘70s, along with the various wars that took place, and the role of the hippie movement. I felt captivated by the group’s passion for everything they thought was right. This free-spirited way of living was something I didn’t identify with, but truly admired.

When I learned about Woodstock, it blew my mind to find that half a million people traveled from all over the U.S. to upstate New York for three days of music. After having been a part of various planning committees, I know how challenging it is to get people to commit to anything, and here two guys on a farm in Woodstock, N.Y., were able to get 500,000 people to gather together for the same purpose. It amazed me! 

On Thursday night, I had my Woodstock moment as I stood in a field in Kraków filled with 1.5 million young Catholics. I looked around and was able to see people from 180 countries, waving the flags of their countries, as we sang and danced together in unity — 1.5 million people gathering together to see Pope Francis and celebrate Christ! And even more are expected for the big vigil with the Holy Father on Saturday.

Yes, it astonished me that a few men from New York could get half a million people to travel across the U.S. for music, but here Pope John Paul II started something that has 2 million to 3 million young adults traveling across the world for Christ!

On Thursday night, there was music, laughter, and passion shared by youth around the world, and all for a higher purpose. There was even rain — just like that first Woodstock. However, Woodstock pales in comparison to what took place in Błonia Field on Thursday. For what took place in that field was not a group trying to escape from the world, but a group trying to make the world a better place.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Gapinski

Alyssa is a member of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Granbury. She is passionate about her Catholic faith, traveling, and enjoys participating in Journey — the young adult group at her parish. 

Growing up, I was always obsessed with the hippie generation and Woodstock. I always said that if I could go back to any point in history, it would be to the first Woodstock music festival in 1969.

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