Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 2, 2003
WYD pilgrims reunite
Basilica group still active, but many parish groups have dispersed
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Before World Youth Day in Toronto one rarely saw young people serving Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica.
But when you attend Mass there today, you cannot help but notice how the young adults have become more active in liturgical celebrations.
They act as altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, choir members, and greeters among other ministries.
"I believe that WYD built a community within the young adults in the parish and that community is still growing and getting stronger. We have new people joining," Pam Herasimenko told the WCR.
Herasimenko was one of the many youth from the basilica who attended WYD in Toronto last summer.
After the Toronto event, most of the group stayed together. They have prayer meetings twice a month and they also hold simple socials. As a service to the parish they are taking care of the courtyard of the basilica.
"I think the involvement of young adults in the parish is very vital, because as the parish changes we do need new people. We need young faces," she said.
Not all who attended the WYD from Edmonton Archdiocese are able to keep their parish groups going.
Some groups have halted regular activities because of dwindling attendance as some members left town to get a new job, go to university or simply moved to another city.
On May 18, the archdiocesan Youth Commission organized a local celebration of the 18th World Youth Day at J.J. Bowlen Junior High School.
Attended by more than 200 youth, the event allowed for some WYD pilgrims to reunite.
With the theme Behold your Mother (John 19:27), Salesian Father Luc Lantagne spoke about what the youth can learn from the Virgin Mary.
"We are called to know and be who we really are - like Mary, who was a true Jewish woman," Lantagne told the youth.
He reminded the youth that like Mary they should have a spirituality of their own. "You're much more spiritual than you think you are."
Lantagne also encouraged them to develop a Marian soul, a dramatic soul and an apostolic soul.
To have a Marian soul means to understand that the Virgin Mary is with us every step of the way while a dramatic soul is one that narrows "the gap between the person that I am to the person that I ought to be," Lantagne explained.
At the celebration, the youth attended various workshops on spirituality. Familiar praise and worship songs were sung. To prepare for Mass, presided by Archbishop Thomas Collins, they prayed the new mysteries of light on the school grounds.
Carrying a replica of the WYD cross, they stopped at various stations to pray the new rosary mysteries, which were prayed in Italian, Chinese, German, Spanish and French.
In one workshop, led by Ksenia Kopystynska, the youth made a rosary with styrofoam balls for beads.
Louisa Lui of Mary Help of Christians Parish said, "I was thinking of Toronto. It was really a great experience."
She believes the experience in Toronto made her group stronger.
"Even before we went to Toronto we already had a group established. So when we came back we stayed together."
"We share our faith with each other and with those who are new in the group. We are doing more service projects for the community," Lui said.
Holy Rosary Parish's Milena Jusza said, "It is good to reminisce and sing the songs we sang at the WYD.
"Our group decided to stay together and we formed a youth group at our church. We have an amazing experience staying together."
They have regular meetings and different activities. "Keeping our group together helps us grow more in our faith," Jusza said.