Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 13, 2000
Youth's weekend of prayer
Burning Bush sticks to simple format of Mass and meditation
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
The more things stay the same, the better they get.
For the past five years the schedule for the Burning Bush Prayer Festival, previously known as the Youth 2000 retreat, has been without change.
It starts off on a Friday evening with the rosary, Mass, music, meditation and a talk. Saturday is pretty much the same. It winds down on Sunday with rosary, Mass, music, meditation and a talk.
This year's festival, Nov. 3 to 5 at Archbishop MacDonald High School, featured speakers Franciscan Father Robert Staneon and Brother John Paul Ouellette, both of New York and the archdiocese's Fathers Paul Moret and Sylvain Casavant.
"Our speakers are always dynamic," said Eileen McIntyre, an organizer. "And our master of ceremonies is Jesus. "There's always something exciting going on."
The program doesn't change because the focus is always on one thing, reverence to God. And this gets neither boring nor tiresome. It was enough to bring 300 youngsters to this year's event.
"Rather than just give them fun and games, we try to give them something solid to chew on," McIntyre said.
The solid food participants get is a good helping of faith and a comfort zone to express that faith in.
"They're here without fear," said McIntyre, 25. "We try to keep our (organizing) team quite young, so the kids can have someone they can relate to.
"Sometimes they can't relate to things like this with their parents or other adults."
Participants form a circle at the centre of which is the Eucharist, set on a gold colour pyramid frame covered with candles. It is placed there all weekend for adoration.
The Eucharist-centred event, began in 1992, has spread all over the world from Mexico to the British Isles. It was inspired by the words of Pope John Paul who, at World Youth Day 1989 in Spain, asked the youth to bear witness to the faith.
The sacrament of Reconciliation is also a major part of the Burning Bush weekend. For some participants it was the first time they understood the sacrament's true meaning. A little teary after leaving the confessional, Stacey Morrison smiled when she said she felt "refreshed."
"I don't have to let things bother me anymore," said Morrison, 22. "I just bring them to God. He's a parent, parents are supposed to make you feel better when you have problems.
"We forget that he's there for us because we don't see him or hear him. We just need to invite him into our lives.
"We're not perfect and it feels good to know that that's OK with him."
With her eyes closed, hands raised heavenward and voice singing praises to God, Emily Budd seemed like she was consumed by the spirit of the weekend.
"I was overwhelmed," said Budd, 18, of the first time she was at the event two years ago. "Every year, I feel so overwhelmed by it."
The consistent schedule is what makes it interesting for Budd. Although the events are the same, the experience is not.
"You hear these talks and you might not get it the first year - you hear them and you get something new out of them the next year, something you didn't get before. You get older. Every year, you just receive something at a different level."
Being part of events like Burning Bush has helped Budd, a student at the University of Alberta, make daily life decisions based on her faith.
"God called each one of us here this weekend. We each have a purpose. He has a purpose for us to be here. I don't know what mine is yet, but we all have a purpose."