Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 4, 1999
Medicine Hat schools unite for huge liturgy
By PATRICK GLASHAN
Special to the WCR
On Sept. 8, the Medicine Hat Arena was jammed to the rafters. Colourful banners were hung. There was music and pageantry. As the appointed hour approached, the crowd buzzed with excitement.
Amazingly, the nearly 3,000 people in attendance were not gathered for a Western League Hockey game or Stampede Wrestling action. Neither Terri Clark nor Shania Twain were offering a concert for their many fans.
Instead, those in the arena had come to participate in a special Mass marking the start of the 1999-2000 school year.
With Bishop Frederick Henry as celebrant, the nine Catholic schools of Medicine Hat and Bow Island came together to begin "journeying in holiness" toward the new millennium.
Probably without realizing it, the students, staff and other supporters of Catholic education in southeastern Alberta were making history.
Never before had so large a crowd attended Mass in Medicine Hat. And those present were rewarded with a rich and satisfying liturgy.
The bishop explained the biblical concept of jubilee with its themes of reverence for life, forgiveness and justice. Never shy about tackling controversial topics, the bishop reminded everyone of Pope John Paul's suggestion that Third World debt be cancelled.
Henry challenged the teachers and students to write letters to Canadian Members of Parliament calling for the restoration of peace and justice in East Timor.
Students were attentive and respectful during the Mass.
Afterwards, several parents expressed their appreciation for how well the day's activities had been organized. Credit for this special Jubilee 2000 celebration goes mainly to the staff of one of the schools in Medicine Hat.
Last May a number of teachers at St. Mary's Junior High School in Medicine Hat proposed a September liturgy for all the Catholic schools in the area. Finding a venue large enough for the Mass was a major challenge.
After many meetings, however, and with great cooperation from other schools, the St. Mary's organizing committee pulled it off.