Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 29, 2002
Edmonton pilgrims serve poor at Marian Centre
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
In keeping with the theme of World Youth Day - You are the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World - young people attending the Toronto celebration were given a chance to undertake some sort of community service, namely spending a few hours helping those in need.
In Edmonton July 19-20 several dozen young pilgrims brought the theme to life by getting involved in a variety of social service projects such as helping hospital patients, making sandwiches, deboning chickens and feeding inner-city residents.
At the Marian Centre, some 30 young people helped to prepare food for inner-city residents who visit the centre for food and clothing.
Following a guided tour of the centre, which is run by members of the Madonna House Apostolate, the young volunteers set out to work in groups for at least two hours each. While some made cheese sandwiches, others helped to debone chickens to make hot soup and some helped fill small film containers with shampoo and conditioner which are distributed to the needy. Close to 140 people visit the centre daily for a hot meal.
Janice Fan, 19, a first year U of A pharmacy student and member of the group from St. Theresa Parish, said making sandwiches and deboning chickens was a good community experience. "I had never been to a soup kitchen before and I wanted to see what it's like."
She was impressed with the efficiency of the centre's 10-member staff and vowed to return to the Marian Centre or to another soup kitchen after returning from World Youth Day, where she hopes to get "some spiritual renewal."
"I think World Youth Day will be a memorable event for me," she said. "I'm really looking forward to it."
Andrea Lo, 18, chose to come to the Marian Centre because she wanted to help the needy. She was impressed with the dedication and devotion of the Madonna House staff and said she felt welcomed by them. "I like the fact that I'm helping people here."
Colin Fagnan, 17, has been volunteering at the centre for four months now but chose it for his WYD service project because he likes the peaceful and enthusiastic atmosphere prevalent at the centre. Together with Fan, Lo and others, he helped make dozens of sandwiches and then went out to distribute them. Then he helped the staff fix the front yard.
"Making food for the poor is a very rewarding feeling," he said. "I'll come back on my own time after World Youth Day."
By interacting with the centre's staff, he said he has learned the meaning of the words devotion and humility.
The member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish said he wanted to go to Toronto to see the pope and to share his faith with other cultures. "I hope to get new insight into the cultures of the world."
Patrick Stewart, Marian Centre director, said the volunteers not only provided needed help but also benefitted from the experience.
"I hope this will help them to understand the poor and to see the poor in their neighbourhood," he said. He also hopes the experience will help the youth realize "the joy and the pleasure there is in serving others."
Youth also helped out at St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital, the Edmonton Food Bank, Operation Friendship (a seniors drop-in centre), Mustard Seed soup kitchen and the inner city barbecue at Giovanni Cabotto Park July 19.