Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
May 21, 2001
Calgary takes first step to World Youth Day
Okotoks kickoff shows energy is building, says organizer
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
OKOTOKS — The gymnasium of Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks turned into a small sea of white as prospective World Youth Day pilgrims donned fresh "First Step" T-shirts to greet their bishop at a rally earlier this month.
About 350 young people attended the energetic May 10 rally, taking their first step towards World Youth Day in Toronto in July 2002.
Organizers hope that about 1,000 young people from the Calgary Diocese will travel to Toronto next summer.
Attended by young people from the four corners of the sprawling diocese, the rally got them off to a good start.
"I'm over the moon," said Susan Suttie, WYD coordinator and director of the office of youth ministry. "It makes me feel the energy has started, the word is getting out there."
A diocesan youth retreat team has been prepping young people across the diocese since January, staging 82 retreats with 6,000 young people. More are scheduled for the rest of the school year with requests continuing to come in.
At the Okotoks' kickoff, youth participated in a liturgy, received an information package and donned white T-shirts emblazoned with the red, blue and yellow WYD logo encircled by the words "First Step-17th World Youth Day, Toronto Canada, 2002."
They munched on snacks, listened to rock group Apostles' Creed from St. James Parish, and watched a slide presentation presented by St. Cecilia's Parish about World Youth Day in Rome last year.
"I'm truly excited," said Father Kevin Tumback, one of the World Youth Day chaplains. "This is a great turnout. It's great to see the enthusiasm."
Organizers are encouraging youth to register by mid-June. Even if participants plan to go on their own, they must register by mid-June, said Suttie.
Thus far, about 350,000 young people from around the world have registered for the July event in Toronto.
One Calgary participant who wants to go is Devon Leroux, 17, a Grade 12 student at St. Mary's High School.
"I want to discover myself and my beliefs in God," said Leroux, who asked the bishop to bless a special rosary made out of rose petals that a friend had brought back from Rome. "I want to broaden my faith."
Likewise, Lukas Dratal, 19, an engineering student at Mount Royal College, wants to go to Toronto after attending WYD in Rome last year.
Describing World Youth Day in Rome as "an amazing experience," Dratal said, "I want to be part of the revival of the faith among youth in Canada."
The youth at the kickoff also heard Bishop Frederick Henry cite controversial rapper Eminem to underline the importance of faith in Jesus Christ.
As a few young people laughed and giggled, Henry deadpanned a vulgar and violent Eminem rap song, My Name Is.
"I don't subscribe to the in-your-face dark philosophy of recklessness, hopelessness and nothingness, spooned out in bite size morsels by angry rap icons such as Eminem," the bishop said.
"It isn't just the foul language, the gross presentation of sexuality and mindless depravity that bothers me. What I find particularly offensive is the unmistakable undercurrent of violence - violence against gays, against women, against adults/parents and against life itself."
There is no respect or reverence for people or things, no sense of love of neighbour, he said.
The Calgary bishop then countered that pessimistic worldview by quoting Christ: "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
Jesus creates no illusions, Henry said. "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Said Henry: "With the truth of his words which sound hard but fill the heart with peace, Jesus reveals the secret to living a true life . . . Christ must be our point of departure in rediscovering the source and the profound rationale of our identity and personal life together."
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