By Fr. Pawel Stawarczyk
As I was heading with my group to the WYD 1997 in Paris, I was carrying in my mind this (European) stereotype of Parisians as arrogant and self-centered people who barely tolerate non-Parisians as a necessary evil. As we were dispatched to host families who volunteered to offer their homes to thousands of pilgrims, my friend and I took up residence for a week in the living room of a cramped apartment of a young couple with two toddlers. They had little to do with religion but enjoyed the idea of hosting pilgrims to WYD.
They turned out to be very friendly and very curious about our countries, our lives and our religion. On leaving their home and their gracious hospitality a week later, I knew that I learned something very important – do not believe stereotypes.
I am glad I could experience this firsthand – thanks to WYD 1997.