Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 29, 2005
Local woman serves during papal Mass
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Volunteering to help out at World Youth Day brought Carol Brassard closer to Pope Benedict XVI than she dreamed possible.
Brassard, 30, an adult altar server at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park, was notified only a few days before she was to leave for Germany that she had been selected as one of about 600 altar servers for the papal Mass Aug. 21.
"I was less than 100 metres from Pope Benedict when he arrived. I was in awe. It was an incredibly spiritual experience to see someone of that magnitude, so near," Brassard said.
"When we started to chant 'Benedetto' he looked over to us and blessed us with the sign of the cross. My heart grew because he acknowledged that we were special; that we are loved. That was the highlight of pilgrimage for me."
Last April, Brassard had applied to be a volunteer during the pilgrimage through the website established by the Archdiocese of Cologne. She had almost forgotten about it until she received an email message from the archdiocese. It said she had been chosen as an altar server.
"I took my white robe from OLPH and was lost in a sea of white at the Mass. All of the altar servers sat in one section. There were some from Cologne maybe 14 years old," she said.
Brassard's role was to stand with an umbrella beside a priest at a designated location for distributing Communion.
Experiencing the Mass with nearly a million pilgrims confirmed for Brassard that she has not made a mistake devoting much of her life to the Church.
"Something of that scale, when there are so many other people doing the same thing, you know you are never alone," she said. "Now I want to do more for people within my parish. I want to help more in my community."
Brassard has been an altar server since she was 12. She became an adult server when she turned 18.
"Helping people experience Jesus helps their lives," she said. "Especially during Christmas and Easter, I feel very privileged because there are people who come to church only on those two occasions."
Brassard joined with other pilgrims from the Edmonton Archdiocese and visited the main cathedral in Cologne, where the three Wise Men are said to be buried. There were stained glass windows perhaps 10 metres tall, she said.
"I walked in and said 'Wow.' It was so magnificent. It was much larger that St. Joseph's Basilica."
Brassard helped paint a banner that was put up in an 1,100-year-old church in the village of Ostercappen. She toured castles with her host family during the Days of Encounter prior to World Youth Day in Cologne.
She linked up with about 1,000 others who walked a March for Peace through Osnabruk. They sang and carried banners.
At the Marienfeld Mass site, the pope blessed a large bell that rang for 15 minutes before Mass. The pope named it John Paul the Great and whenever it rings, people will be reminded of him.
"Sometimes you doubt, but the pilgrimage was a tremendous refresher," she said. "The theme was We Have Come to Worship Him which came from the Bible when the Wise Men followed the star. That is what we experience by following Jesus."