Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 5, 2002
Local trio wowed by WYD
They packed lightly and brought a lot home
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
When one goes on a journey, one has to pack lightly and leave room for whatever is there for the taking.
This, three Edmonton youth found out on their pilgrimage to World Youth Day.
Don't forget the Bible and rosary because this was a pilgrimage. Raincoat and umbrella definitely came in handy, because of the weather changes.
But most importantly, one's heart and mind must leave a lot of space for saving memories for the future.
Andrew Heikkila,17, of St. Thomas More Parish, was not only excited when he embarked on this journey. He had so many questions in his head, he was not exactly sure what to expect.
The journey proved to be tough. And Heikkila is going through a tough time in his life now, since he's preparing to move out on his own and attend McMaster University.
"You don't know what you are going to do. You've got to have faith in something. You've got to trust God that everything will be fine. I'm going to hold on to that, and I thank my parents for bringing me up in the faith."
"The pope is a great role model for everyone because in spite of his sickness and fragility he came to celebrate with us."
From the pope's display of determination, Heikkila found a new inspiration that his life ahead will turn out fine as long as he keeps his faith and practises it.
"Seeing the pope was probably one of the most amazing parts of my life."
When he thinks of the number of people that the pope brought together, he thinks also of the number of people that Christ brought together.
When Catherine Batty, 20, of the Ukrainian Eparchy finishes her English and education degree, she wants to teach in a Christian school.
And what she's learned from her WYD pilgrimage will be a treasure chest for her future journeys.
"Indescribable, that's the way to describe it," she said. "What was the common thing with us? It was God. God bonded us together, even though we didn't speak the same language."
Batty believes God spoke amidst the throngs of people at the event. "God spoke to us in so many ways, I couldn't even begin to think how magnificent it was."
"This WYD will affect me for the rest of my life. I don't even think I will be able to tell right now, how it will affect me in five years."
As she watched people around her, she felt great knowing there are so many other Catholics out there, who will be promoters of justice, seekers of peace, providers of comfort and solace, and beacons of hope.
Colin Fagnan, 16, of St. Thomas d'Aquin Parish, felt pure excitement coupled with some fears.
"It's a very confusing feeling," said Fagnan, who had his first plane ride and the first big trip outside of the province.
"I really didn't know what I was getting into, because this is a pilgrimage on a scale that I've never experienced before."
For him, being in the midst of the crowd in Toronto got scary when people started pushing to get a better view of the pope. "But when the pope starts speaking, people go quiet and I knew it's going to be okay."
He is more into his faith now than before he went to Toronto, because he understands it better.
Fagnan remembers clearly what the pope told them. From now on he will not be afraid to express his faith because he knows all over the world there are millions of young people like him, who share his faith.
"You see an old man with so much strength and so much faith, how can you not be inspired by that?"
When it rained on the morning of the papal Mass he took it as a funny way of waking up.
"It seemed like God woke us up and told us to get up and meet the pope."
He saw the whole experience as miraculous.
From the journey, he brought home patience, courtesy of the long waits and some unavoidable hassles.
"But spiritually, I took home with me courage and strength. That's what the youth of the world need. The pope delivered and exemplified them so well in the WYD."