Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
September 3, 2001
Youth worship the Lord
Weekend 'Mannafest' brings youth to the Eucharist
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — They spend the weekend praying to Mary and Jesus and getting closer to the Lord. They also sang, danced, learned about their faith and shared with each other.
More than 350 young people aged 14 to 30 celebrated their faith at the annual Mannafest prayer festival at Newman Theological College Aug. 24-26.
The event, formerly known as Youth 2000, is a Eucharistic-centred weekend designed to meet the spiritual needs of young people throughout Alberta.
The retreat has been taken place in the Edmonton Archdiocese and around the world since the mid-1990s. It is response to Pope John Paul's 1989 call to youth to "bear witness to the faith."
The weekend included talks and workshops on faith issues as well as confessions, recitation of the rosary, music, meditation, all night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a Eucharistic procession, testimonies from participants and the crowning of Mary, mother of God.
"The idea is to bring more focus on the Eucharist and to help young people to understand the values of the sacraments in the Church," explained organizer Eileen Mcintyre. "We want them to have a deeper relationship with Jesus and a better understanding of (the role) Mary."
Father Robert Staneon, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York, Father Stephen Hero, vocations director for the Edmonton Archdiocese and Father Paul Moret, pastor at Rimbey, gave talks during the weekend and took turns leading the retreat.
The local band Venite Adoremus provided the music.
In his homily, Archbishop Thomas Collins called on participants to bring focus and discipline into their young lives so they can better serve the Lord.
"God calls us to bring our lives into focus and that means making commitments," he said. "It may be nice to think about what's behind the thousand doors, but (eventually) you must choose one. We don't have a lot of time, let's bring it into focus and spend it loving neighbour and selves."
The archbishop also urged the young to discipline their tongues, their thoughts and their eyes. "Let us say words of love and encouragement rather than words of criticism," he said.
Staneon also urged the youth to focus their lives, saying God call his people to four great vocations: marriage, single life, religious life and priesthood. "Once you choose a path, once you focus, God has a plan for you," the Franciscan said.
He said the Church needs priests and religious and youth should consider those vocations. "Without priests the Church doesn't function," he noted. "You can confess your sins to a tree but what good is that going to do to you. A tree can't give you absolution. We need priests."
When Staneon asked those who felt called to religious life to raise their hands, 26 young people did so. After receiving a warm applause from their peers, they filled cards with their names and addresses so the vocations committee can contact them.
Francis Fast, a 16-year-old from Derwent, signed his name for the priesthood but he said it still too early to say whether he is going to become one.
"I want to explore the possibility," he told the WCR. As for the retreat, which he has attended for the third time, Fast described it as a time for faith renewal which brought him closer to the Lord. "It's an emotional spiritual high."
"It's a powerful weekend," said 18-year-old Jacquie Schoenberger of Sherwood Park. "It picks me up. Knowing that Jesus is with you makes it a lot easier to stay calm and to be patient."
Mark Isinger of Sherwood Park came for the first time this year and is already contemplating coming back next year. "It was an excellent experience to be with a bunch of kids my age with the same beliefs," he said. "It gave more faith in Jesus and Mary and I had a really good time."
Philippe Deverdenne said the retreat made his faith stronger. "It's a great place to be in union with Jesus," the 15 year-old said. "During the Benediction I was actually touched by Lord. I felt overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit."
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