Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 20, 2002
WYD pilgrims push the youth envelope
Drayton Valley 'youth' have a seasoned spiritual hunger
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Drayton Valley's delegates to this summer's World Youth Day stretches the traditional boundaries on the word "youth," resulting in members who bring a seasoned spiritual hunger and joy to their pilgrimage.
Of the eight delegates to the WYD, two are a married couple who are converts to Catholicism; one is grieving the loss of her child in January, another is a single mother and a 25-year-old woman is a newcomer in town.
Most WYD groups' ages range from 16 to late 20s: Drayton Valley's range from 18 to 37. Their love of their faith easily bridges any age gap.
"We're becoming very close knit. We're orthodox, magisterial-loving young Catholics, who are looking to enrich our faith for ourselves and for our children," Shawna Turner told the WCR.
While half of the group is still discerning their vocations in life, the other half includes parents. The common bond they share though is the goal of strengthening their faith.
"This is a good opportunity to work on that," said Shawna, a 28-year-old mother of two.
She said, "Canadians need to be so grateful for this opportunity" of hosting WYD. Every country where WYD was held has been enriched and blessed.
Her husband, Justin has been her support. "I don't think I would be able to embark on this journey without him on my side."
The couple never thought they would both be able to go. And when they first heard about the event, they thought the word youth meant teenagers.
"But the more I learn about WYD, the more I learn it's perfect for us to go and learn more about our vocation as parents," said Shawna.
The young wife does indeed want to see the pope, but she also wants to enrich her belief system so she can nurture and bring her children up in the faith she and her husband embraced.
Justin is just as enthused saying, "I can't express how excited I am to go and be with all the young people. It starts to feel really lonely in the world - being a Catholic and trying to live what the Church teaches.
"But being with a group of people (who) feel the same way will be absolutely wonderful."
Justin enjoys interacting with parishioners at St. Anthony although his priority is learning more about the faith.
"There is more to learn than we ever thought possible."
One of Cathie Larsen's children died last January and being involved with the WYD has become a personal blessing for the 37-year-old mother.
"It's been a real rough year for me. I thought this would be a great (opportunity) to renew my faith and teach it to my other kid."
She believes Jesus is there for anyone who needs him. "I want to show my kid that and teach other kids that when you need to hold on to Jesus, he's always there for you."
Preparing for WYD is proving to be a challenge for Christine Horne, 36, a single mother of two, as she juggles time between her job, her children and preparing for Toronto.
She is thankful the Holy Father is gathering the youth of the world to come together and prove the Catholic faith is not something of the past. "Just thinking that the youth of the entire planet are coming together is really comforting."
Another bonus for Horne is her new group of friends. "We are really getting close."
Colleen Stadlwieser, 25, moved to Drayton Valley last fall. Becoming involved in WYD helped introduce her to her new community.
"I've been able to get to know a lot of people," she said.
She was convinced to go to WYD after a priest at the Church said, "We need to make God part of our lives. And it needs to be on a daily basis."
Like any other group, preparing for the event entails two aspects - spiritual and financial.
The financial side of the preparation found them busy sponsoring silent auctions and catering.
On the spiritual side, the group follows the paths suggested in the book Salt and Light.
"Some of paths (in the book) are really good," said Stadlwieser. "I like some of the analogies they give."
Shawna agreed and said, "What we get from the preparation aspect is just being together and being in a prayerful setting and having the opportunity to discuss what this whole pilgrimage means to us."
When they return from the WYD, the group promises to help keep youth ministry alive in the parish. Other members of the group are Suzin Pinkoski, Emily Edwards and Andre Blanchard.