Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 26, 2001
Hail Marys on the run
Cross makes quick Way of the Cross in Vegreville
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
VEGREVILLE — Student Tricia Yakimetz was fascinated by the fact she could finally touch the cross she had heard so much about.
"It's really amazing to have it here," she said. "It's been in so many places around the world and now it is right here. This means Vegreville matters too."
Visiting the Edmonton Archdiocese until Nov. 23, the World Youth Day pilgrim cross arrived at St. Mary's High School Nov. 15.
A Knights of Columbus honour guard, students and Christian Church leaders welcomed the four-metre high wooden cross as a group of students carried it into the gymnasium. The cross had just arrived from Mundare. Earlier that day, it had visited Lamont.
During the brief, 45-minute ceremony, Church leaders spoke about the meaning of the cross to their young audience.
The Rev. Susan Story, pastor of St. Mary's Anglican Church, described how the cross has gone from being an ancient instrument of torture and death to a powerful symbol of Christianity and love.
Today, she said, it is a sign of Good News and a symbol of the "awesome" power of God to bring love and peace.
Father Gene Maximiuk of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Church said crosses come in different shapes but all represent one thing - "Christ's love for us."
Students and teachers touched the cross and some prayed in front of it before returning to class.
"It's a powerful symbol of worship and unity," said Grade 12 student Trevor Dowhaniuk, 18. "It's quite amazing. It's very special because people from all corners of the globe have touched it. It's even more special because it has been blessed by the pope."
Led by Ukrainian Basilian Father Daniel Wach and the K of C honour guard, a group of about 25 students, teachers and parents took turns carrying the 31-kilogram cross throughout town, making stops at five key locations.
They prayed for world peace at a monument to the war dead and for the sick at the chapel of the local hospital. The also prayed for the families in a residential neighbourhood.
People on the streets looked with amazement at the fast-walking group as it made its way through town with the cross up in the air and saying Hail Marys as they walked. Passing cars slowed to take a peek.
The final stop was St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church, where the cross was left for a celebration in the evening.
John Makonechny, 23, came to St. Mary's School to pick up his brother Andrew, 16, and ended up helping carry the cross through the three-km trek.
"It is nothing compared to what (Jesus has) done for us," he said. "I feel very privileged to have carried the cross."
"If Jesus carried his cross, so can I," Andrew Makonechny said.
Michael Yakimetz, 17, said carrying the cross was a unique experience. "Nothing like this has happened before. I feel proud that it came to Vegreville after being all around the world."
In Mundare earlier in the day, some 30 elementary students had processed the cross on the streets surrounding the Basilian Fathers Museum.
Wach, who also led the visit of the cross at Lamont and Mundare, said he is excited about the presence of the cross in the area "because it give teens a chance to show their faith."
"The pope knows what he's doing when he is giving this cross," he said. "The kids are getting very excited about World Youth Day."
Wach is also excited about WYD in Toronto in July next year, which he plans to attend. He participated in WYD in Denver in 1993 and saw the transforming power the event has. "It has an awesome power for transforming lives so I feel really indebted almost to bring everybody to it."
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