Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 10, 2000
Local Catholics welcome year 2000
Great Jubilee begins with local celebrations of praise, worship
By ANH HOANG,
RAMON GONZALEZ and
WCR Staff Writers
Hundreds of local Catholics ignored the revelry to attend one of several Church services Dec. 31-Jan. 1 so they could mark the start to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 in a special way.
Young Catholics came out for a lengthy prayer service and Mass at St. Andrew's Church while celebrations at St. Joseph's Basilica and Assumption Church were geared for the whole Catholic community.
As well, two downtown churches hosted evenings of prayer and entertainment. All Saints' Anglican Cathedral hosted an ecumenical event and McDougall United Church made its service a multi-faith one.
At the west side St. Andrew's Church, young people sat, knelt and stood to worship the Lord in song, prayer and silence for two and a half hours. They also went to Confession and attended a Mass celebrated by Father Sylvain Casavant.
The Youth 2000 choir, Venite Adoremus, led the lively singing. About 160 people, mostly young adults, attended that New Year's Eve celebration. The majority came from Edmonton, although there were some from Stony Plain, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Lloydminster, even Calgary.
It was Sigrid Moosman's idea to have a night of praise, worship and adoration for youth to bring in the millennium. The 21-year-old parishioner placed ads in the paper and called everybody she knew to invite them to the celebration.
"We wanted to do something special for New Year's Eve," Moosman said. "We wanted to praise the Lord but also to thank him for the past and ask him to help us prepare for the new year."
The congregation sang hymns and recited prayers of praise and worship. It also knelt silently for long periods before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar.
"It gives us a time to reflect on the coming year, just to reflect on our resolutions, our things to improve," said 21-year-old Joanne Kurzitza, a member of the Venite Adoremus choir.
"There is so much busyness in the world and this is just a nice, a different alternative and a peaceful alternative instead of going to a crazy party or something" Kurzitza said.
"This time of silence and reflection helps us prepare our hearts for the springtime that the pope has called for."
Dave Onofrychuk, 20, also welcomed the new millennium at St. Andrew's Church. "I thought this would be great because it's got praise and worship. You get to praise God, you get to adore him in the Eucharist and you get to receive Jesus in the Mass," he said.
"I just thought this would be the best way (to welcome in the New Year)."
At midnight, following Mass, the mostly young congregation socialized at St. Andrew's Auditorium for an hour before heading off to private parties.
At the basilica, the crowd was also in high spirits as it packed the pews for an evening Mass with Archbishop Thomas Collins.
The Mass was followed by a gala dinner and dance attended by more than 300 people. The success of the jubilee gala could mean the beginning of an annual New Year's dinner and dance event at the basilica, said Sister Annata Brockman, pastoral associate.
"It was all very delightful," Brockman said. "And I knew it would be delightful. I never thought something would go wrong, like the way they talked about with (Y2K).
"I never feared and I always knew we would have a delightful evening. And we did."
At Assumption Church, on the south side, about 100 people attended a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration and a midnight Mass which began as fireworks boomed in the distance.
This Mass was also celebrated by Collins who called the start of the year 2000 "a festival of time."
"Time can be imprisoning; it can also be life-giving," he said.
"It can be a prison of busyness and anxiety." But with Mary, who in her heart ponders the will of God, we see how the proper use of time can bring peace.
This world is fleeting, the archbishop said. The more we realize that, the more we will use time rightly. "We cannot make our nest in this world.
"On the day of our death, the only thing we will have is the love we have given away."
Father Archie MacKenzie, pastor of Assumption Parish, said the idea for a midnight Mass to begin the year 2000 came from Senator Douglas Roche, a parishioner.
"I just wanted to spend the last hour of the previous century and the first hour of the new century in the spirit of reflection and trying to deepen my own appreciation of the magnitude of this moment," Roche told the WCR.
The moment was a time for going "inward, trying to connect with God," he continued.
Roche said he was also impressed by watching people around the world on TV welcoming the new millennium. It was an occasion for "the electronic bonding of humanity."
"It was a day to rediscover my own relationship with the other six billion people on the planet."
People were also bonding at McDougall United and All Saints' Anglican.
"It was really nice that all the faith groups could be together to celebrate this event," Virginia Sharek said of the two celebrations.
The jubilee celebration brought with it wonderment and curiosity for Sharek, ecumenical officer for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and past president of the Edmonton and District Council of Churches.
With the advancements in technology and medicine, she couldn't help but wonder where it will all lead.
"I can remember being in the '60s and 2000 being so far away," said Sharek. "But it's here now.
"And it's really nice to see everyone celebrating it together - marking the 2,000 years of Christ on earth."
Of the ecumenical prayer service at All Saints', Hannah Dennison said, "There was so much happiness and joy there.
"If you were there New Year's Eve, you'd remember it forever," said Dennison, who attended the celebration with her three children.
"This is different from the other New Year's services and dances they have. People seemed a lot happier this year.
"Maybe it's this jubilee year. I was looking around and it seemed no one had a care or worry in the world. You were around all these people and you were happy."
Dennison's previous New Year's celebrations, which have included a family dinner and movie, had be given up for an evening of listening to comedian Randy Ritz and singer Angie Money at All Saint's Anglican Church.
She later joined the crowd in a candlelight procession to Sir Winston Churchill Square where the group met with a procession from McDougall United and the thousands of partiers already hooting and hollering at the Square.
While the New Year's Eve celebrations marked the beginning of jubilee celebrations, they are not the end. On June 11, Pentecost Sunday, local churches will host the ecumenical J2K festival at City Hall and Churchill Square.
And the Edmonton Archdiocese will hold its main celebration Sept. 14-17 at the Shaw Conference Centre with a host of speakers including retired Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco. The event will also include a variety of workshops as well as activities for children and youth.