Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 18, 2007
Catholic faith came to Canada in a boat
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Debra Violette tells the story of the Ark of the New Covenant.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
As symbolic as the Ark of the New Covenant is to Christianity worldwide, its reference to the establishment of Catholicism in Canada is also significant, says Debra Violette.
Speaking to about 100 people prior to Mass June 9 at St. Mary's Church in Red Deer, Violette said the Catholic faith actually came to Canada in a boat.
"The 2008 International Eucharistic Congress is tied into the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. Obviously, Samuel de Champlain (a Roman Catholic), founder of Quebec City, arrived in a boat. There is a whole symbolism of faith arriving to Canada by way of water."
Champlain's voyage led to the first Catholic church north of Mexico, she said.
Violette spent five days in the Edmonton Archdiocese as a representative of the congress, accompanying the ark to numerous communities, offering information on the meaning of the ark as it relates to the congress and to Catholics in Canada.
The congress will be held in Qu‚bec City June 15 to June 22, 2008. Violette says the event will be an incredible festival.
The idea of the ark was borne following the Youth Summit in 2005 in preparation for the eucharistic congress, where some 20,000 are expected to gather in faith and prayer.
An organizing committee was struck that used the World Youth Day cross as a sort of template in that they wanted something symbolic to travel across Canada in preparation of the congress.
3 main objectives
"The organizing committee decided to go with a new object and a work of art full of symbolism, with three main objectives in mind," Violette said.
"The first was catechesis, to learn more about the Eucharist and deepening our faith. The second was liturgy, to be able to celebrate the Eucharist.
"Third is a commitment to action because when you are nourished by the Eucharist, you can't stay home and be happy. You must go out and share it with others."
When the final concept was prepared, it was handed over to Alain Rioux, a self-taught, prayerful sculptor in Quebec City.
Eleven different types of wood were used to construct the ark, but only five comprise its hull as a symbol of the five continents. It contains eight panels, or icons, depicting Eucharistic images from the Bible.
The cover is made so the monstrance can be carried on the ark in a procession. The Bible can also be fitted on the ark for people to celebrate the Word.
At each end is an angel with its head bowed in adoration before the Eucharist and the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament.
Pope Benedict blessed the magnificent vessel during the Quebec bishops' ad limina visit to the Vatican. The pontiff is expected to confirm whether he'll attend the congress, by the end of 2007.
The ark is hollow, allowing people to write pledges on pieces of paper and place them inside. The pledges will ultimately make their way to Quebec City.
"These commitments are ways of deepening our faith in the Eucharist," Violette said. "It's a way of taking prayer intentions a step further in that not only am I praying for something, but I am committing to something."
Deepening our faith
More then 10,000 pledges have been made, she said. The ark is continually emptied and the prayers are saved.
"They will be brought forth during this great Eucharistic celebration in Quebec. What exactly we will do is uncertain. We're still praying on that."
For more information about the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress, visit www.cei2008.ca, contact your parish office or call Andrew Papenbrock, coordinator of the eucharistic congress for the Edmonton Archdiocese, at (780) 469-1010.