Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
December 3, 2001
Cross touched heart of the archdiocese
Godiseum rally spurred students to talk about God
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — From Hinton to Olds, come sun, come snow, before dawn and past dusk, on the roadside to Skyreach Centre, from the university campus to the smallest village, the power of the pilgrim World Youth Day cross shone, sometimes on a grand scale, at other times in simple but profound ways.
Wherever it went, the people it touched would not remain the same.
"It was a tremendous success," Archbishop Thomas Collins said of the cross' Nov 14-24 pilgrimage through the Edmonton Archdiocese. "Wherever the cross has gone, its simplicity touched the heart."
The cross drew people to reflect upon what Jesus has done for us and how we are called to live in the imitation of Christ, Collins told the WCR.
"It's a sign of violence and the evil we find in this world because, originally it is an instrument of execution. But it also is a sign of great love that comes out of the midst of that.
"The cross is transformed by the gentle love of Jesus."
Andrew Papenbrock of the archdiocesan Youth Commission drove the Catholic Social Services van that carried the cross around the diocese.
"The over-all experience of the coming of the World Youth Day cross is that faith in Christ and the message that cross has, is alive and well in the archdiocese," Papenbrock told the WCR.
The display of vibrant faith from the smallest to the largest venue was unbelievable, he said. "The celebration of salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ was reflected wherever that cross visited."
At an over-night vigil in Lloydminster, there were never less than 10 people in the church spending an hour or so with the cross, said Jim Corrigan, an organizer.
Organizers in this town went to all the classes in the Catholic schools to explain the significance of the cross, Corrigan said.
"I heard one student say, 'Imagine that Jesus had to carry that cross all by himself,'" shared Corrigan. "Jesus did it for us, now we have the opportunity to carry it for him," one student said.
Collins recalled how touching it was to see the cross being carried from the Roman Catholic basilica to the Ukrainian Catholic cathedral. "I will never forget the carrying of the cross down Jasper Avenue. That was awesome."
"I think we need to have public manifestations of our faith, because it strengthens us in our discipleship; it really does," he emphasized.
The Godiseum rally was a way to see the wonderful things young people are doing in high schools, noted Collins.
Kelsey Speakman, 17, is one of the high school students who organized the Godiseum rally. "It was spectacular, so amazing and I think it really touched a lot of people's hearts."
Speakman has several friends who were happy with the Godiseum event. The Grade 12 Louis St. Laurent student shared with thousands of students at the rally "how difficult it is on a day-to-day basis struggling with the people" around her who don't believe in God.
After the Godiseum rally, Speakman found that many of her peers became more comfortable in talking about God with each other.
Sandra Talarico, high school chaplain, said the event "brought to light the importance of Jesus Christ in people's lives."
"Students talked about how important it is to live their faith . how good it is to see other people practise their faith."
Talking about God in schools could be intimidating for students, but after such a huge event, students find it easier to do.
Talarico said the event was also a moment to recognize the gifts of young people in the Church.
Papenbrock said he was moved on three locations. Due to the heavy duty of coordinating the visit, often he would lay down for a rest. But in Enoch he was able to spend time venerating the cross.
In Camrose, the young people and children made small crosses. For Papenbrock, it was moving to be given one of those small crosses after a long day and a long haul of driving.
"It was also a special moment because I saw how a (prominent) man, who was travelling with me, was humbled by a cross made by little children."
At the end of the journey of the cross in the archdiocese, an ecumenical celebration was held in Olds. "It was just amazing how we were drawn together with our faith in Christ," Papenbrock said.
Roger Lamoureux also had a chance to accompany the cross. No stop was scheduled in Onoway. But due to the persistence of the people, Lamoureux stopped and allowed the people to venerate the cross and pray with it.
"The people did not know how to thank us," said Lamoureux.
He was personally touched when he picked up the cross in Whitecourt. Two people were waiting when he arrived.
"What occurred to me was how Simon of Cyrene felt when he was asked to help Jesus carry the cross," Lamoureux said. "I felt like Simon, being asked to help Jesus."
Nobody was there but him and another person who would drive the cross to Hinton.
The experience of the Pilgrim Cross can change our hearts, Collins said.
"I hope and pray that the lasting effect in everyone would be . . . that we become more faithful disciples of Christ."
Follow-up is one of the key things for events like this, said Collins. "We don't want an event like this or even the World Youth Day to be simply a big celebration that we just kind of clean up after."
An event like this touches the heart but, once transformed, people should move on and witness to that change of heart, said the archbishop.
Collins believes that the spirit of collaboration in putting together the visit of the cross will be one lasting effect.
"The experience of getting to know fellow disciples, who are committed to the Lord . . . these friendships will be built in years that lie ahead."
Papenbrock agreed that the spirit of collaboration among lay people was heightened by this event. He saw young and old and different communities working together. "People became united as one body of Christ."
Collins said the visit of the cross helped promote the basic vocation to discipleship, but it also helps in making people aware of the many particular vocations.
Wherever the WYD cross has gone it has led lay people to have more and deeper involvement with their mission in the Church as well as to renewed interest in priestly and religious vocations, the archbishop said.
Collins says that sometimes people don't realize the vibrancy of the faith - the adventure in all forms of ministry and mission. "I think that we become too timid sometimes and we need to be bold in all our life of discipleship."
Boldness is required in whatever vocation one is called to, Collins said. "I think the cross energizes us to do that."
The visit of the cross generated interest among young people to attend WYD in Toronto next July.
Papenbrock said few young people in the archdiocese had heard of WYD, but with the coming of the cross, most now understand the significance of this world gathering.
There are students who decided to go to Toronto because of what they have experienced in the Godiseum rally.
Nicole Brown said awareness about the WYD was definitely raised on the U of A campus. Many people told her: "Nicole, I really think that I should go to Toronto next summer."
Jim Corrigan was hoping they would send some 20 young people from St. Anthony Parish in Lloydminster.
"We don't know yet how many but I believe it will be more than that," he said.
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