Midwest Mariapolis 2016

Four days. Four hundred participants. Christians from many denominations. Faithful of varied religions. Young. Old. Newly arrived immigrants. Some for the first time. Others over many years. Coming together to live and share messages of hope and communion in a world so in need of Unity. These would describe the 2016 Midwest Mariapolis, as would be true for so many other locations around the world where local Mariapolis gatherings are held.

Even more than in previous years, this year’s Midwest Mariapolis gathering represented a grassroots effort. Themes, experiences, children’s and young adult programs, Catholic liturgies, prayer services, games, and recreational programs were all prepared by varying groups of participants. This mosaic came together as an expression of the presence of God among all both in the preparations and in the four day gathering.Mariapolis 2016-GE1


Special guests, who quickly became close family participants, were two families just newly arrived from Iraq and the Holy Land and Most Reverend Donald J. Hying Bishop of Gary, Indiana.


The two families had lived strong experiences in their tense and war torn homelands, leaving everything to find peace for their families. With just two weeks in the United States behind them, they were overjoyed to find a true sense of family at the Mariapolis.

Bishop Hying celebrated Sunday Mass and lingered after to enjoy a program on Going Out to the Peripheries as Pope Francis has encouraged all Catholics to do. Youth and adults shared experiences on how they were able to respond to the appeal of Pope Francis, reaching out with service projects in their communities. Bishop Hying left with an appeal to help bring the spirit and life of Mariapolis to his diocese. All were touched, also, by Bishop Hying’s blessing for those youth who would soon leave for World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.

Impressions gathered during the four day retreat reflect the commitments made during the days there and the joy experienced. Following is a sample from these impressions.


I love how willing to “share” everyone is. The vulnerability of those here is so refreshing and inspiring. I also love when people share their prayers and the way of praying.

The talks on unity really help me to remember that everyone is a candidate for unity and is to be seen with new eyes. The talk on Mercy was really good. Experiences are always my favorite part.

I felt the warm welcome from everyone I met during the four days. I want to take this with me and share it with everyone I come in contact with every day.

The joy in my life is putting joy in other people’s life. How many people remembered me even though I haven’t been here in a while! How many people helped me!

Tension is a sign of being alive. Conflict resolution workshops gave me hope that conflict is part of life. I also really enjoyed hearing the different views from the interreligious group panel.

The conflict resolution workshops; I wish they could be repeated next year, because I would love to participate in more than one.

The Mariapolis is a GREAT event – interesting, informative and moving.