Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 20, 2002
WYD an outreach to adults, says priest
Campus group has 40 preparing for Toronto
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Father David Bittner, organizer of the World Youth Day group at St. Joseph's College, is convinced this event is for young adults, 18 to 35 years old.
"It's really not for the (younger ones). It's for the university students," the Basilian priest told the WCR, adding he does not mean younger participants should not attend.
Bittner, a former high school teacher, is convinced the Church's outreach to high school students has been good but to young adults, including married ones, "it has been weak."
Once young people get married, the tendency is to stop minding their faith. They will come back when they have children to be baptized, said Bittner.
"I think it's really for them to realize that being a believer is not a thing that you do when you are a kid and you might do again when you have kids. It is something for your whole life."
That's how Bittner sees WYD working for young adults. For them to know that there are other young adults interested in their faith will surely make a difference.
"The Holy Father gave us here - the Church in Canada - a gift on a golden platter. That's why it's so important that the emphasis is on that age group."
St. Joseph's College WYD group has nearly 40 delegates. They come from places like Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Lloydminster among others. They joined the group because they are students at the U of A.
Every group faces a challenge or two when it comes to preparing for the Toronto event.
Being spread out during the last months of preparation is one difficulty St. Joseph's group faces. But that has not dampened their spirits. They meet once a month and follow the path suggested in the book Salt and Light. They discuss the topic suggested in the book and share their experiences.
"They are all up and positive about going to Toronto," Bittner said.
Bittner gets e-mails from group members expressing their excitement. They also bring in more people, who have just decided to go.
Darcie Boyden, an education student, joined the group a couple of weeks ago.
"I wanted to (join) a couple of months ago but then I didn't think I would have a summer job that would give me the amount of time off I needed," Boyden told the WCR.
In one of her theology classes she heard a speaker from the Youth Commission, Roger Lamoureux. "He showed a really great video about the World Youth Day," recalled Boyden, 21.
"It really made me start thinking about it again. The video almost brought me to tears. I was really moved by it and I really wanted to go after I saw that video."
Then she managed to find a job that will accommodate her going to WYD.
She eagerly anticipates seeing people from different races coming together to celebrate the faith.
Taking theology courses at St. Joseph's College has strengthened her faith and she is looking forward to being strengthened even more through WYD.
"And doing that by meeting other people, who believe in what I believe in from other places is just awesome."
Danielle Lutes, 22, another education student, said, "The preparations have been great."
Lutes cherishes having met a lot of new people and new friends, who share the same faith.
The first meeting of the group set her enthusiasm on fire when she heard about previous WYDs.
"What's exciting for me is going with the people who share the same faith. It's hard to imagine that all over the world we can come together and celebrate what we believe in. But it's going to happen."