Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 28, 2000
Assembly is top jubilee event
Major fall conference aims at drawing young and old
By GLEN ARGAN
Organizers are hoping to draw up to 7,000 people to the archdiocesan Assembly 2000 in September with a program that includes top-flight speakers, and activities for families, youth and children.
Several Catholic school districts in the archdiocese are planning their professional development days to be part of the assembly, notes planning committee chair Rita Strauss.
"It's really the largest cooperative effort we've had as an archdiocese involving the schools," Strauss said in an interview.
The assembly is slated for Sept. 14-17 at the Shaw Conference Centre in downtown Edmonton. It will be the archdiocese's main celebration for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Several major Church events such as Scripturefest, Youth 2000 retreat, archdiocesan liturgy workshops, biennial archdiocesan assembly and the school faith development day, will be rolled into the jubilee assembly. The intent is to make the assembly the archdiocese's sole major event of the fall.
Keynote speakers include Archbishop John Quinn, retired archbishop of San Francisco, well-known American educator Thomas Groome, biblical scholar Sister Eileen Schuller and Edmonton Archbishop Thomas Collins.
The assembly includes a total of 54 sessions with other speakers, drama and activities for children aged three and up.
"We wanted to cover all aspects of what it means to help people grow in their faith," Strauss said.
The event begins Thursday evening with Quinn's talk on The Coming of the Fourth Church.
The retired archbishop was also the keynote speaker when the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops held its annual meeting in Edmonton in 1995. Last year, he made headlines with a book on ecumenism and the papacy called The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity.
Groome, an engaging speaker and education professor at Boston College, will hold centre stage on the Friday with a talk on Catholic Identity in the New Millennium.
The Catholic school divisions of Edmonton, St. Albert, Evergreen, Elk Island and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Le Conseil scolaire du Centre-Nord, will make that day of the assembly their professional development day.
"They see it as their jubilee project too - to join with the whole archdiocese," Strauss said. "Groome is definitely a drawing card."
"It's a way of moving out from our school district so we can celebrate with the wider archdiocesan public," agreed Patrick McDonald, religious education consultant with Edmonton Catholic Schools.
Friday will also include a youth keynote session provided by Youth 2000, a retreat movement that focuses on Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
Schuller, an Edmontonian and former professor at Newman Theological College, will address the gathering on the Saturday on how the people of God in ancient times looked forward to the future.
Collins will address the event Sunday morning and then celebrate the Eucharist in the assembly hall which can accommodate up to 7,000 people that day.
Among other speakers in focus sessions at the event will be retired Archbishop emeritus Joseph MacNeil, Oblate Father Rene Fumoleau, local leaders of other churches and faiths, and numerous well-known local Catholic figures.
There will be talks on youth ministry, First Nations spirituality, catechesis, Eastern Christian spirituality, retreats, Church communities, family life, ecumenism, social justice, liturgy, medical ethics and other topics.
But more than just a collection of speakers, the assembly includes opportunities for prayer, worship and entertainment.
Youth will provide entertainment at a Friday evening coffee house and Solid Rock Ministries will provide "music for a new millennium."
Behold the Lamb evangelization team will work with youth aged 11 to 15 while there will be a Bible camp for children aged three to six and another for children seven to 10.
"The facility is excellent for children," said Strauss.
There will also be an imagination market where children can build crafts with recycled materials. And the interdenominational Team Rexon includes a drama group and puppeteers who bring Scriptures to life for children and youth.
There will be Evening Prayer on Thursday, Morning Prayer on Friday and Saturday, and the Eucharist on Sunday.
As well, a prayer room will give people an opportunity to take part in various forms of prayer from multifaith to evangelical praise and worship.
"I'm so excited about the assembly and there's so much there," said Strauss.
Pastors have been supportive of the assembly, she said, and organizers hope busloads of people will come in from outlying areas.
The Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women's League are providing volunteers and encouraging members to attend.
As well, organizers hope Edmonton Catholics will open their homes to billet out-of-towners, she said. "We're hoping to minimize the cost for people."