Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
April 16, 2001
Local Woman 'overwhelmed'
Nicole Brown received Communion from Pope while on World Youth Day journey
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Palm Sunday was a memorable day for Nicole Brown. While in Rome with 46 other young Canadians to pick up the World Youth Day Cross, she also received Communion from Pope John Paul.
She is now proudly showing a photo of the event to her peers and friends in the Youth Commission of the Edmonton Archdiocese and at the University of Alberta, where she studies.
"It was overwhelming, very emotional," recalled the archdiocese's assistant youth coordinator.
"I thought it was the most amazing experience. It was so overwhelming meeting the pope and then receiving Communion from him. It was a once in a life-time opportunity, I'm sure."
Brown, 24, was one of 10 Canadians who received Communion from the pope at the Palm Sunday Mass, April 8. The rest of the delegation took part in the liturgy as readers and Eucharistic ministers.
After the Sunday service, the Canadian youth delegation took possession of the four-metre tall cross and brought it back to Canada for a nationwide tour to prepare for World Youth Day, which will be held in Toronto in July 2002.
The cross was in the hands of the Italian youth, who had it for the 2000 World Youth Day in Rome.
A day before handing the cross over, the Italians processed with the cross through the streets of Rome followed by the Canadians, who carried their national flag as well as the World Youth Day flag.
"People would come out of the shops and restaurants to see what was going on and then they would join us and follow along," recalled Brown. "It was absolutely beautiful."
The passing over of the cross from the Italians was definitely a high point for Brown, an education student at the U of A.
"It was very emotional," she said. "The Italians were crying. This cross means so much to them and they didn't want to give it up. And it was emotional for us because we were receiving this powerful symbol."
After taking possession of the cross, the Canadians carried it in procession before a crowd of 200,000 people in St. Peter's Square. The procession was led by five Inuit drummers.
The cross, currently in Ottawa, will remain 16 months in Canada and will be taken to every region of the country during that time. It will arrive in Edmonton sometime in November and it will be taken to several rural communities, including Jasper, Lloydminster, Red Deer and Lac Ste. Anne.
In Edmonton it may be taken to the university, Whyte Avenue, the inner city and "other places where the cross would be a powerful expression of faith," Brown said.
The cross is sent to different countries to encourage involvement of younger people in the life of the Church. And that's what Brown hopes will happen.
"My hope is that people can really encounter the meaning of the cross and build their faith and enhance their faith with its presence," she said. "I think it could be an invitation for people who have stopped practising or who have left the Church to come back."
Brown, who attended World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, said the cross can have a powerful impact on those who see it. "I think it can have long-term effects if people are open to receiving it."
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