Linwood woman helps coordinate media for WYD

Linwood woman helps coordinate media for WYD


Next month, millions of pilgrims will gather with Pope Francis in Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day, a celebratory and evangelical time of unity for the world’s young Catholic Church.

News media from around the globe, religious and secular, will join the youth, documenting and sharing their stories of this once-every-three-years universal event.

Assisting these thousands of reporters, photographers and technicians with their work will be Jamie Lynn Black, a Linwood native and currently a member of the International Media Team for World Youth Day.

Since February, the 28-year-old Black has been stationed in Krakow, preparing for the crush of pilgrims and press that will pray the Stations of the Cross and celebrate Mass with Pope Francis. She has collaborated with individuals from all over the world, exploring ways to best accommodate the international media during the July 26-31 event.

“I want to make sure for the journalists coming into the country that they have a positive experience and can do their job well,” she said.

Black has also led training sessions for volunteers on interaction with the media.

For Black, her role in Krakow blends her passion for her Catholic faith with a career in the news field.

Graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism, she moved to Rome, taking classes in media studies at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. This education was interrupted when she got the job as international media coordinator for last fall’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Coordinating two papal events in less than a year has had its challenges at times, she says, but even more so, has given her an opportunity to connect with her fellow believers.

Growing up in Linwood, she was a member of the youth group at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, and traveled with them to 2002’s World Youth Day in Toronto, “a really important experience for me,” she recalls.

“I was so impacted by the experience, which moved my life in a direction toward the church,” she said.

In less than a month, she looks to “share that experience with others.”

“The Catholic Church has an incredible message, one that is often lost in the (secular) news cycle. We want to take this opportunity, with the world watching as 2 million people gather in Rome to tell the story of the Gospel and Jesus’ mercy to a captive audience.”

A group of 30 young adults, priests and seminarians from the Diocese of Camden, led by Bishop Dennis Sullivan, will travel to Poland beginning on July 23. Before officially welcoming the Holy Father on July 27, they will visit a friend of Bishop Sullivan’s in Mlodzieszyn; pray in front of the tomb of Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko; and tour Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where millions lost their lives, including Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein.

Black sees the young church from her diocese, and from the United States, growing up in a post-Christian culture, “in a world that isn’t embracing their values.”

She talked about the pope’s ability to inspire people, and the impact Karol Wojtyla, now Saint Pope John Paul II, had on Poland in 1979 when he returned home.

The country that had suffered under Nazism and communism found hope in the Holy Father’s presence, she said.

“The people saw Christ in each other, and saw that they had a common love of Christ,” she said.

“This knowledge gave them an incredible empowerment to live their faith,” she continued.

Especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Black sees as opportunity for youth to realize that “Christ is the only answer” for those suffering.

In all, Black hopes that the enthusiasm, love and message of the Catholic Church sure to be showcased during World Youth Day, will stretch out far past Krakow, Wadowice and Warsaw.

“Our goal is to reach a lot more than 2 million people,” she says.

The 2016 WYD celebration will mark the 30th anniversary of when Saint John Paul II, the former archbishop of Krakow, invited bishops all over the world to hold an annual event for youth in their dioceses. The first international gathering, now held every two or three years, was in 1987 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Pope Francis was born and ministered before becoming pope.

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