Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 31, 2004
Youth 'wish to see Jesus
Local World Youth Day celebrated with new cross
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
They sang and danced and prayed with youthful enthusiasm. They also learned about their faith and renewed their commitment to be a light to the world.
It was an upbeat celebration of youth, song and faith as more than 200 young adults from across the Edmonton Archdiocese gathered at J.J. Bowlen Junior High School May 23 to mark the 19th annual World Youth Day.
The archdiocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry organized the event to highlight young adults in the archdiocese and to prepare those who may attend World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, Aug. 16-21, 2005.
Participants included young people who had attended World Youth Days in Rome and Toronto, some who are planning to go to Germany and many who just came to celebrate their faith among their peers. We Wish to See Jesus was the theme of the event.
The celebration began with an early afternoon outdoor procession that showcased a newly built replica of the WYD cross, which Archbishop Thomas Collins blessed later at the closing Mass. Carrying WYD banners and flags, the loud teens walked for several blocks singing songs of worship and praise.
Back in the gym of J.J. Bowlen, 6110-144 Ave., Father Mike Mireau, the guest speaker, assured the upbeat crowd that God loves them and urged them to use their gifts and talents to make the Church relevant in the modern world.
If Jesus were walking around today, he would be concerned about things like poverty, pollution, war and George Bush, the audience and the speaker agreed. "His mission is to serve the world and that's the Church's mission too."
But Mireau said the world doesn't see it that way and it is the role of the youth to help change that perception. "We need to show that the Church is relevant in the world," he said. "We need a revolution of young people."
This may lead to resistance and persecution but there is no alternative, he said. "We've got to do it. We have to save the world with God's love."
At the celebration, the youth attended various workshops on topics such as spirituality, prayer, love, social action, stewardship and WYD 2005.
In one workshop, youth minister Ksenia Kopystynsk reminded young people of their social responsibilities as baptized Christians. She urged them to get informed about the political situation of the country, to vote and to get involved.
"We have the power to change the world," she said. "That's our moral obligation as Catholics."
In a workshop on stewardship, Father Patrick Baska urged young people to be aware of their God-given talents and to share them widely. He recommended his audience to make an inventory of their talents and to put them to good use to build the kingdom of God.
Jay Aquino, 16, described the local WYD celebration as fun and inspiring, saying it made him feel part of something big. He sang and danced and attended two workshops. In one, he learned to "pray properly." In another, he realized he has the power to change the world.
"Youth today find Church boring because they don't get involved," he said. "If we want the Church to be more alive and exciting we have to help transform it."
Aquino, a member of the youth wing of Couples for Christ, said he would love to attend WYD in Germany next year. "I really want to go and I'm praying that I will be able to. But it's not in my hands. It's in God's hands.
"I want to see the pope and meet other young Catholics from around the world."
Betty Ng, a member of St. Thomas More Parish, attended the gathering because she wanted to experience World Youth Day. She had not taken part in a major youth event since she joined the Church this past Easter.
She wasn't disappointed. "I had a lot of fun," the 18-year-old said near the end of the event. "The workshops helped deepen my faith."
Now Ng is 90 per cent sure she will go to WYD in Germany next year. "I want to see the pope, I want to see young people from all over the world coming together to celebrate their faith. I want to be part of that experience."
Shauna Midgley, 26, came to J.J. Bowlen School "to celebrate World Youth Day in a community of peers" and to enrich her faith through the workshops.
She came out convinced that young people must get involved in order to change the world for the better. "We have to go out and show our faith and be a light to the world," she said.
Midgley is one of 20 young people from St. Andrew's Parish who attended WYD in Toronto in 2002 and said she is still marked by the experience.
"It was a good experience," she recalled. "More than anything I enjoyed the friendships I made and the preparation for the event. You had older parishioners working with youth and the youth working with children."
Caroline Mireau, a 21-year-old education student and member of St. Joseph's College Parish, was glad she was invited to attend the local WYD celebration. "I've had a lot of fun," she said. "It's very inspiring to see young people coming together."
Mireau attended a workshop on prayer and said she learned how to integrate prayer into her everyday life.
The celebration also featured a barbecue, an outdoor rosary procession, a Mass with the archbishop at St. Dominic Savio Church and a social.