Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 12, 2001
Pilgrim Cross unites a nation
Cross is having an impact as it winds its way around Canada
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. — From the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, the World Youth Day Pilgrim Cross has been helping young Canadian Catholics to feel they are the body of Christ - they do not stand alone.
"We're so remote up here, it seems like a million miles away not just physically but mentally," said Clayton Morrell, who coordinated the Oct. 30-Nov. 3 visit of the cross to the Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese.
"This cross brought us right into the centre. It reminded us that all of us up here haven't been forgotten by the world."
In Halifax, Aurea Sadi, archdiocesan youth ministry coordinator, said, "What really made a difference for a lot of people was the thought that this cross has been all over the world and had been touched by millions of people. And yet here it was in our diocese and they could touch it."
From World Youth Day headquarters in Toronto, S‚bastien LaCroix, 21, has been keeping a constant eye on the cross's pilgrimage.
"It has been amazing," LaCroix said. "I did not know the symbol of the cross was so powerful and meaningful."
"The cross is a symbol of life - life over death and it is a symbol of peace at the same time."
LaCroix believes that the cross is impacting people of all ages from all over Canada. "As I receive testimonies from across Canada, awareness about the WYD is becoming bigger and bigger," he said.
The Canadian tour of the cross began last April when Pope John Paul presented it to a Canadian delegation.
The tour will climax with a six-week walking pilgrimage from Montreal to Toronto where the cross will arrive several weeks prior to the July 23-28 World Youth Day.
Morrell said the visit of the Pilgrim Cross to a prison in Yellowknife was the highlight of the cross's late October visit to his northern diocese.
"It was amazing. We had some drumming, singing, and a sweetgrass ceremony," the 24-year-old coordinator said.
An unidentified aboriginal elder told some 70 inmates in Yellowknife prison that they have not been forgotten.
He also spoke about the visions he had as a young boy and how the angels protected him as the video of the cross coming to Canada was shown to the inmates and its significance explained.
Some 1,600 students of the three Catholic schools in the city together with other people of the community celebrated the Eucharist. A huge screen was installed so that all could see the WYD videos.
Morrell was one of the 47 young people who received the cross from Pope John Paul in April.
"Oh boy! There's no word to describe it," Morrell said about meeting the pope.
Rae, N.W.T., an aboriginal community of 1,500, is 100 per cent Catholic. When the cross was brought there, some 150 vehicles were waiting for it and ready to participate in a procession.
"I couldn't believe it. We set up the cross at the back of a truck we processed and the people were saying the rosary in Dogrib," said Morrell.
Between Sept. 3-9, the cross visited Halifax. The highlight of the cross's visit there was a downtown stop where it was stationed in an intersection with four pizza places on each corner.
Bars and clubs in the area were closed during the time that the cross was stationed on the corner. "Between 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. some of our young people were present and evangelizing those who were not strong in their faith or were not believers," said the 27-year old Sadi.
The young people involved in evangelizing talked with passersby about their faith.
"The visit of the cross re-energized us and enthusiasm for WYD was heightened," Sadi said.
The Charlottetown Diocese received the cross Sept. 21-26.
"It was a moment for people of all ages to be (unified)," Joe Byrne, 39, director of youth ministry, told the WCR.
Highlights included a visit to a seniors' home where youth helped seniors venerate the cross. An ecumenical Stations of the Cross was also celebrated.
Special prayers for the police officers and firefighters were said as well as prayers at a financial institution for it to help promote social justice.
"Every station we made across the diocese brought and added a different element to the visit," Byrne said.
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