Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 19, 1999
Youth prepare to go to Rome
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
It's still a year away. But across the Edmonton Archdiocese, dozens of young Catholics are preparing to go to Rome next summer to meet Pope John Paul.
Almost 135 young people from 14 parishes are already committed to go to World Youth Day 2000 in Rome. Some parishes have been fundraising for more than a year for the Aug. 15-19, 2000 event which costs up to $3,000 per person.
Concerts, rallies, bike-a-thons, volleyball tournaments, river rafting, even garage sales have been or will be held to raise funds for the trip.
Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Sylvan Lake is planning to send 14 young people, aged 12 to 17, to Rome next year. Four adults will accompany them.
The group has been fundraising for almost two years, holding a bike-a-thon in August 1998 and a mini-rally last May. It's also planning a river-rafting event this summer and second bike-a-thon August 21-22.
So far the group has raised $8,000 out the $25,000 it needs to cover the trip.
Rhonda Schwab, youth coordinator for Sylvan Lake, said along with the fundraising, group members have been promoting the Rome gathering in the community and preparing themselves spiritually for the journey.
"We have chosen to make this a real spiritual journey," she said. "Our main focus is to attend the pilgrimage, to partake with different cultures and to get more in touch with our spirituality."
Schwab said when the group gets back its members will spread the World Youth Day message to other young people in the area.
Red Deer Catholics are planning to send 50 young people to Rome. Their major fundraising project is Summer Fest '99, a Christian rock concert featuring a series of American and Canadian gospel bands. It'll be held Aug. 14 at 8 p.m.
The Sherwood Park parish will send 25 youth to Rome and is fundraising through a cash calendar. Fort Saskatchewan is sending 12 and has been fundraising for a long time. They sold poinsettias last Christmas and are planning a volleyball tournament for the fall.
"(Moneywise) we are about a third of the way," noted Fort Saskatchewan's World Youth Day coordinator Wendy Bell. She said young people are anxious to go to Rome to repeat the experience of World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 when 1,100 Albertans made the pilgrimage.
"We took a group to Denver and it was such a profound spiritual experience that we want to do it again."
St. Theresa's Parish in Millwoods may send 25 people, Holy Rosary (Polish) Parish between three and four, Calmar about five and Devon another two. Other parishes sending youth to Rome are St. Alphonsus Parish in Edmonton and Holy Cross Parish in Grande Cache.
The reason parishes are fundraising so far ahead of the event is simply cost, said Mary Ganton, coordinator of youth ministry for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
The five-day pilgrimage to Rome will cost $2,500 to $3,000 per person, including air travel, food and accommodation.
Ganton said interest in the event is building up because it is taking place in the Year 2000, the jubilee year, and because many see it as their last real chance to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope John Paul.
"The whole celebration of the Great Jubilee for young people has a real powerful significance," she said. "They want to be part of the opening of the Holy Door in Rome."
The Youth Commission has met twice with those going to Rome and is planning several other gatherings to prepare the travellers spiritually for World Youth Day. Activities already on the agenda include a big "spiritual" rally to discuss the significance of World Youth Day and a goodbye Mass before departure.
"We would like it to be not just a trip but a pilgrimage and a spiritual experience," Ganton said.
Each participant will pay an extra US$10 to help youth from "less privileged countries" make the journey to Rome.