Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 29, 2005
WYD 'empowers' local pilgrims
Pilgrims awed by huge crowds
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
I feel empowered, like my next step could be anything and I know it would be on the right path," Margaret Graham managed to say amid the hugging frenzy Aug. 22 outside St. Charles Church.
Ten pilgrims from the parish who attended World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne - all members of the FROG (Fully Reliant on God) Squad - darted from the shuttle bus into the arms of waiting relatives. Graham headed straight to her father, Ron.
"This was my first World Youth Day and my first trip to Europe," said Graham, 18. "There are so many words yet I am speechless. To see so many people there for the same reason was breathtaking. Our (parish) group was connected before but now, after seeing so many people as close as us, brought us that much closer together and closer to God," she said.
The St. Charles youth were among about 400 pilgrims from the Edmonton Archdiocese who attended WYD in Germany Aug. 15-21.
The parish established the FROG Squad youth ministry after attending WYD 2002 in Toronto. The vocation of service came from Pope John Paul's homily to be servants of the poor.
"We have so many ideas and we can't wait to get going again," Graham said.
The group experienced the usual travelling woes, like heavy downpours and congested thoroughfares. They toted bags of laundry and slept on hard surfaces. But this local group of pilgrims would do it all over again without hesitation.
Graham said sharing her faith with her host family in Holland during Days of Encounter encouraged her to live more openly because they gave of themselves so freely.
"We stayed with families from a parish who took us in and cared for us. I cried when we left them, but I didn't even cry when I left my own family. It was a life-changing experience."
Jamie McClean, 21, hooked up with friends after they returned from WYD 2002 in Toronto. He loved their stories.
"I wanted to experience the atmosphere of being in a Mass with the pope," he said. "I wanted to do some travelling. It will take awhile to take it all in, but the vigil with a million young Catholics gives me something to be proud of. It lets me know I'm involved in the same thing with so many other people in the world. It was pretty crazy."
Kelita Jeffrey was amazed to see a million people together for the same reason.
"To hear the Our Father and the Creed in so many languages is something I will never forget," said Jeffrey, 21. "There was such a rush of energy that we feel we can do anything, literally change the world."
Peggy MacCormac, 19, thought a moment about WYD 2002 in Toronto and the late Pope John Paul. She said she detected a subtle change in the mood.
"The atmosphere was a little different with Pope John Paul passing but the enthusiasm of the youth was still there," she said. "Pope Benedict did an awesome job. We were all there for the same reason and we will carry it on. With the catechesis and homilies we heard, we can take those messages and live them out."
Instead of going to a school or a church, Peggy and her sister Annie, 21, chose to stay in large tents with other young pilgrims. They ate, discussed the event and prayed together.
"It was great to be in a tent with so many people where you wake up together then go and have breakfast. It was its own community," Peggy said.
"When we celebrated Mass with the pope, he talked about the saints and how they were examples showing us the way to happiness."