Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 21, 2002
Pilgrims practise pope's mandate to serve others
WYD pilgrims begin to harvest rewards
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Harvest time is drawing to a close on the prairies. But in the Archdiocese of Edmonton, the fruits of World Youth Day are just beginning to be gathered and offered.
Pilgrims, inspired by Toronto, are now doing religious and charitable works locally, as the spirit of WYD lives on through their various activities.
From soup kitchens, to academic institutions, to parishes, the marks of WYD inspiration are visible as young people respond to the clarion call of Pope John Paul to go out into the deep and express their faith in word and in deed.
Louisa Lui, 22 told the WCR, "We need to go and do more outreach projects."
Right after WYD, she and her group from Mary Help of Christians Parish volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and at the Marian Centre.
"We were disappointed that we did not get to do our service project while in Toronto. So we decided we can still do something locally."
Lui had never worked in construction before and found her Habitat experience fulfilling.
While serving soup at the Marian Centre, she smiled at everybody. A gentleman came back and told her, "Your smile adds another colour to the rainbow of my life."
For Lui, it was a fulfilling experience because somebody was touched by a simple gesture of a smile. "I'm glad I was able to help, even if it was something so small and something so minor."
The group plans to volunteer again at the Marian Centre and Santas Anonymous during December.
Lloydminster pilgrims found sharing the experience with the whole parish is paramount and are now active in parish life serving in various ministries.
Laura Anhorn, who co-coordinated WYD for the parish, said," We need to keep in mind that WYD is just the beginning of the spiritual renewal that we experienced."
The group still holds monthly general meetings. "We want to carry on in growing together as a group, but also inviting others to be part of it," Anhorn said.
They also collaborate with the youth minister of the parish and hope to create two service projects involving the whole parish. They will also encourage the parish to participate in the Relay for Life and plan to sponsor a charity drive.
Aside from doing the service projects, the pilgrims want to get to know the members of the parish on a more personal level. So they are planning to organize family-oriented activities such as potluck suppers for everybody in the parish.
"I think it's the desire to keep the fire burning within, " said Anhorn. "When you've experienced something together as a group, you want to maintain the group because you develop a bond. But also we want to bring others in because it was such a fantastic growth in faith that you want to share with others too."
A group from the U of A's St. Joseph College has revived the Newman Club. Every Friday night, with the exception of the first Friday, the group meets to share and celebrate their faith.
They call the meeting Salt, taken from the WYD theme. The two-hour meetings combine prayers, personal testimonies, praise and worship songs, a guest speaker, small group sharing and socials.
Gerard McLarney, 23, a U of A graduate now studying at Newman College, was overwhelmed by his Toronto experience. For him, the Salt meeting is one venue to explore his WYD experience and let its message sink deeper.
Drayton Valley's Catherine Horne agreed saying, "You feel a lot more on fire coming back to your parish. In so many ways we are excited about how we can help out.
"Even in little ways, we're really on fire for what we would like to bring to our youth and get them going."
The effects of WYD even include personal growth such as overcoming shyness and becoming more trusting. For Horne, bonding with other people from other places during the WYD was not difficult. She was comforted that she can be in the midst of strangers and feel at ease. Coming back from her WYD experience, she gained the confidence to welcome everyone to her parish as she experienced being welcomed in Toronto.
"And if I don't do it, how long will it take before the next one does? To take that step and welcome them with faith is something."
"It's the desire to keep the fire burning within."
- Laura Anhorn
Cathie Larsen's experience is more personal for she was grieving the loss of her child when she went to WYD.
"When I got through the gate, I can remember seeing (a vision) of Jesus holding Crystal (her daughter who died)."
In her vision, her daughter spoke to her, "This is for you Mom. This is my gift for you."
She cried, but it allowed her to be more reflective about her life and more appreciative of what she has." At this point I know where my life is going. I really found answers to my questions and I am satisfied.
"Now my attitude is to let Jesus take me where he wants to take me. I am not going to steer the ship. He will steer it for me. It just made me a whole new person."
In other post-WYD activities, Oblate Brother Dan Dion is part of the group that runs Into the Deep, a praise and worship evening every third Sunday of the month at St. Angela's Parish. They have Eucharistic Adoration, sharing of the Gospel, and singing of praise and worship songs. "The turnout is small, but we're committed to doing it. Music has really created a great impact."
And the group from St. Charles Parish formed a band that sings at the Sunday Mass.
Some religious congregations are also doing their share of follow-up. Providence Sisters has Providence Pilgrimage led by Sister Toyleen Fook while the Ursulines of Jesus has People of the Beatitudes, eight nights of reflection and prayer.
Call (780) 436-7250 for Providence Pilgrimage and (780) 489-5201 for People of Beatitudes.