Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 26, 2001
Natives recommit themselves
Enoch band eagerly anticipates arrival of Pilgrim Cross
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ENOCH — Recommitment to faith is the message that reverberated at Our Lady of Mercy Parish when the pilgrim World Youth Day cross visited, Nov. 17.
"I invite you all to venerate the cross and to re-commit yourself to our Lord," Father Andrej Stendzina told more than 100 people who came to celebrate the visit of the cross.
"A joyful spirit and enthusiasm were so evident when we were preparing for this important visit," Stendzina told the WCR.
Some native people came early to the church to wait for the coming of the cross. "They can't wait to touch it," Stendzina said.
While energy was high at Our Lady of Mercy, it was also a solemn moment for the people as a group from Alexis drummed and chanted to the cross.
Rodrick Alexis led the people in the welcoming ceremony. Native rituals, which include sweetgrass, turning to the four directions and bowing down to touch the mother earth, were observed.
As people turned to the four directions Alexis recited appropriate prayers of thanksgiving.
"We turn to the East . . . reminding us of our rising to new life, new beginnings and new opportunities to love God and others," said Alexis.
Turning to the South reminded them of the people who warmed their lives and who offered opportunities for growth, while turning to the West reminded them of the coming night to praise God.
"We turn to the North to recall the challenges and difficulties we experienced, because they too are gifts, gifts of hope and presence of God."
Some young native people gave personal testimonies of their experiences in the WYD gatherings they had attended.
Titus Alexis had been to three WYDs - Denver, Paris and Rome. He was barely a teenager when he went to Denver in 1993.
"I couldn't understand it but I felt the presence of God," Titus told the people.
In Paris in 1997 he was able to understand better what was going on and was able to participate more actively in the celebrations.
"Rome was awesome. Just being in the Sistine Chapel was really awesome," Titus said.
"I asked for the forgiveness of my sins when I was there," Titus said.
Being in Rome was an unforgettable experience for Titus. But while he was there he longed that all the people he knew, especially his family, would have been there with him to share the experience.
Shannon Alexis said that she was very prayerful when she attended WYD in Denver.
"It was overwhelming how many young people were there, young people who came to pray and celebrate our faith."
Where she came from, young people were not open to religion. "But it was awesome to be in a place with a huge crowd, who believe and love God."
Shannon recalled that on the last day of WYD in Denver, it was raining but the young people stayed. She said it was "miraculous that as soon as the pope arrived the rain stopped and the sun shone again."
"It was a touching, wonderful (experience) to see God's grace like that," Shannon said.
The parish youth group presented a drama recalling the coming of Christian faith in their midst while a native band led in singing some religious songs.
Toward the end of the celebration, people made a personal rite of commitment and personal encounter with Christ as they venerated the Pilgrim Cross.
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