Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 22, 2002
WYD pilgrims set out to deepen their faith
2,000 young Albertans are bound for Toronto
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Equipped with Bibles, rosaries, backpacks, sleeping bags and other paraphernalia for a pilgrimage, nearly 2,000 Albertans are flocking to Toronto to attend the 17th World Youth Day, July 23-28.
Edmonton and Calgary International airports and Via Rail expect to swell with passengers in the last two weeks of July. Other pilgrims have opted to get chartered buses while some will travel in their private vehicles.
The Archdiocese of Edmonton is sending 1,000 pilgrims, Calgary Diocese sends 600, St. Paul Diocese has 120, the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan has 111 and the Edmonton Ukrainian Eparchy has more than 100.
After one year of preparations through various events like catechesis, the visit of the WYD Pilgrim Cross, retreats, prayer rallies and Days in the Diocese, pilgrims are heading to experience the much-awaited event.
Archbishop Thomas Collins said the event strengthens the knowledge of faith, increases devotion to the Lord and shows the direction for practical service.
"That is really the heart of WYD. It calls people to serve, be the light of the world, be the salt of the earth."
A good number of Albertans have been tapped to perform in Toronto.
Led by Janelle Reinhart and Stephan Aubin, who recorded the WYD theme, Light of the World, the Edmonton Archdiocese's talents like dAYZ wAGE, magician Sheldon Casavant, singer Mark Mallett and the Logan Alexis Singers, an aboriginal drumming group based at the Alexis Reserve will provide entertainment.
Some 20 people from the archdiocese will also be on the stage when Pope John Paul celebrates the closing Mass with the youth of the world on July 28. Erwin Fung of Mary Help of Christians Parish will represent Edmonton in welcoming the pope on July 23.
Collins, who will be giving catechesis in two churches in Toronto, told the WCR, "I hope (WYD) will have many effects and that they will mostly be long term."
Obviously one immediate effect will be an energizing of those who will participate and strengthen their commitment to the Lord through the experience of this event and the encounter with the holy father, Collins said.
However, he also underlined that the good feeling generated by such an event "may be temporary."
"It's a good thing but it's limited," said the archbishop who will attend his second WYD.
For him, what is more important is for people to continue what they have begun when they come back from the WYD.
Even before Toronto, WYD was very much alive in Edmonton. Collins hails the dedication of the team at the pastoral centre combined with the dedication of the people in the parishes, the young people, the priests, the whole community and said, "I have already experienced a smashing success."
Collins considers the events that took place within the year-long preparation as the foundation for future evangelization.
WYD "calls people to serve, be the light of the world, be the salt of the earth."
- Archbishop Thomas Collins
"All the events in the Days in the Diocese, the events in Toronto will simply add, they will complete. But I am just extremely happy with the way in which WYD has developed in the archdiocese."
The archbishop could not hide his delight at the large number of people who have become involved. "To me it is more than what I can possibly hope for. This has been a tremendous experience. But this is just the start to move beyond WYD."
Andrew Papenbrock, WYD coordinator of the archdiocese, highlights the overwhelming response of the pilgrims. "It shows that in their preparation they truly understood the message of the WYD, that it's not just a trip."
From Calgary, Mary Anne Donaleshen, noted how the people came to grips with the concept that WYD happens in two parts (Days in the Diocese and the event itself) and that everyone is welcome and invited.
"We see the momentum is building and by all means these are all led by the Holy Spirit," said the diocesan coordinator.
With much relief, she said, "Some of the things we can't physically do in the office we relied on the Spirit to inspire people to work on it."
Just before Toronto, the diocese will receive 23 visitors from Malaysia and Poland. They will be invited to see the Passion Play in Drumheller, attend morning prayer in three parishes and attend the ordination of four new priests for the diocese.
Larry Shepherd, a volunteer co-coordinator for Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese, said, "Personally I am hoping that all of our pilgrims will come back spiritually enriched and enthused enough that they won't think of it as just a good time."
WYD Coordinator Denise Wilson of St. Paul Diocese was not expecting to get a high number of pilgrims. They set a diocesan goal for 35 people.
She got more than what she bargained for as 120 registered.
"I'm really hoping that the youth who will come back from Toronto will find ways to be connected better to their parishes.
"It's important for all of them to get involved and those that have leadership skills hopefully will share them in the parish level and even on the diocesan level."