Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 5, 2007
Ark of New Covenant comes to Alta. in June
Ark aims to rally people in prayer for Eucharistic Congress
- CNS photo/courtesy 2008
International Eucharistic Congress
The Ark of the New Covenant was built to inspire Canadian Catholics in preparation for the June 15-22, 2008, International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Excitement is slowly building in the Edmonton Archdiocese as Church officials begin preparations for the tour in June of the Ark of the New Covenant.
The Ark, whose purpose is to draw attention to the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in June 2008, has been a hit everywhere it has visited, gathering people in processions, veneration, liturgical celebrations and community events.
It will tour Alberta throughout June and will stop in the Edmonton Archdiocese from June 8 to 17, when it will be handed over to the St. Paul Diocese.
"What we are really hoping is that the ark will allow us to deepen our understanding of the Eucharist and renew our commitment to be a Eucharistic people," said Andrew Papenbrock, who is coordinating the ark's visit and the Eucharistic Congress for the archdiocese.
The ark is stopping in all of the Catholic dioceses to rally people in prayer in preparation for the congress.
Papenbrock has already met with parish representatives in Red Deer and Edmonton to talk about the Eucharistic Congress and explain the ark's tour. He is now preparing an information binder on the congress and the ark for parishes.
"Conservatively, we will be sending 250 people from our diocese to the congress," he said. "From the response we are getting I would suspect even more than that."
Blessed by the pope
The ark's tour was inspired by a similar national tour that was undertaken with the World Youth Day Cross leading up to WYD 2002 in Toronto.
Pope Benedict blessed the ark May 11 during the Quebec bishops' ad limina visit. The wooden chest weighs about 40 kg and is decorated with Eucharistic images.
Catholics will be invited to write down their personal commitments on fish-shaped pieces of paper and drop them into the ark.
Papenbrock is hoping people will reflect on the ark's Eucharistic images in order to increase their understanding of "what it means to be a Eucharistic people in their own lives."
According to a tentative itinerary provided by Papenbrock, Edmonton will receive the ark from Calgary June 8 "and then we are hoping to bring it to Stettler during the day" and to Red Deer the following day.
There will likely be a procession in Red Deer on June 9, the eve of the feast of Corpus Christi.
On June 10 the ark will arrive in Edmonton in time for the annual downtown Corpus Christi procession. The ark may not be carried during the procession but will be available at St Joseph's Basilica for public viewing and reflection.
Young people attending the Youth Mannafest retreat that day may be asked to keep the ark in the morning and then carry it in procession to the basilica, Papenbrock said.
Major centres only
On June 11 and 12 the ark will likely travel to the west region of the archdiocese, including Drayton Valley, Hinton and Edson.
"The ark won't visit every town," Papenbrock clarified. "What we will do is it'll actually visit regions or major centres and people will travel to those centres."
The itinerary will not be finalized until Papenbrock meets with the Ukrainian Eparchy to find out how they want to take part in the ark's visit.
In Edmonton, the ark will be present at a national vocations conference on June 13, for the Western Canadian Stewardship Conference on June 15 and at other places. It will travel to Lloydminster before it goes to the St. Paul Diocese.
The ark was in the Archdiocese of Toronto Jan. 16 to 31 and organizer Lasha Kiska of the Office of Catholic Youth said it infused new life into the archdiocese.
"The effects of the tour are quite amazing," she said Feb. 27. "There was a wave of prayer that went through this diocese that is going to have lasting effects."
The ark visited parishes, schools and convents throughout the archdiocese. Thousands of people wrote pledges or prayers on anything they could find and dropped them into the ark.
When Kiska emptied the ark she was surprised at what she found. Some wrote intricate prayers or poems.
"Children wrote some of the most beautiful and simplest prayers: 'I promise to be good to my brother and sister' or 'I pledge to share my toys,'" Kiska said. "Every language was represented; every culture was represented in these prayers."