Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 18, 2007
Children welcome Ark in Sylvan Lake
Adoration stirs worshippers to time of silence
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Kyra Cooper places her Eucharistic pledge into the Ark of the New Covenant.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
On a sunny Saturday afternoon when the town of Sylvan Lake held a large parade a block away, more than 100 people, including some three dozen children, chose instead to meet their new spiritual leader and pray before the Ark of the New Covenant.
Members of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish prepared a festive 90-minute event June 9 that included a presentation of the ark and a large greeting card given to Archbishop Richard Smith. Staff and students of Mother Teresa School (K-9) built a miniature ark replica that contained more than 500 eucharistic pledges.
The service featured a 10-minute period of adoration before the Holy Eucharist that was amazingly silent considering the little ones knew a multitude of clowns and balloons was just down the street.
Liam McNiff attended the ceremony with his wife, Catherine.
"I was impressed with the ark coming in and the archbishop taking the time to come down when it is such a busy time for him," said McNiff, a teacher at Lacombe Composite High School.
"It's very meaningful to have all of the people who put in their (eucharistic) requests. It was a nice gesture to see the students who went to the trouble of building the miniature ark for themselves to put their requests in."
Sylvan Lake was one of several stops the ark will make in smaller centres during its pilgrimage across the Edmonton Archdiocese.
The 40-kg wooden chest will take part in school and parish events in Drayton Valley, Hinton, Edson, Leduc and Wetaskiwin before heading east to Vegreville and Wainwright.
The ark will be handed over to the St. Paul Diocese following Father's Day (June 17) in Lloydminster.
"It was a moving moment in the celebration," McNiff said of adoration.
"It gave us all time to reflect upon the importance of religion in our lives. It was very significant - the whole atmosphere of being together for this event and looking forward to Quebec with everybody in the country getting involved. It was very moving."
The ark is travelling across Canada before returning to Quebec City for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress. The congress will take place June 15-22, 2008.
Renee Wilkins brought her three children, including her five-year-old son Jared who presented the archbishop with a welcome card.
Children appreciated ark
"It was great for the kids to see the ark," Wilkins said. "It's something they aren't always going to get a chance to see. It was important for them to have something like that come to their own parish.
"It was amazing that adoration was so quiet. The kids understood it was a time for them to be quiet and take it all in."
The archbishop noted that the term "covenant" is at the heart of our relationship with God, as symbolized by the ark and the Holy Eucharist.
"The marital bond between a man and a woman is probably the most solemn experience we have as human beings, of what the Bible calls a covenant - a mutual bond of love, a mutual relationship of commitment for life," Smith said.
"This marriage bond we find again and again, used in Sacred Scripture, as an image to describe the covenant that God wills to establish between himself and his people."
Smith motioned toward the ark and the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance as the reminder and the reality of God's love for us. "Jesus is, in himself, the New Covenant."
Vivian Coderre said it was "awesome" to see how symbolic Jesus is in our lives.
"The ark travelling around the archdiocese before arriving in Quebec brings our Catholic faith together as a whole. The unity of the Church isn't just about us in Sylvan Lake or other small communities," she said.
"I realize I don't take enough time because I am so busy in my life. The moment of adoration was good for me to say I need to slow down and invite Jesus into my life.
"I need to calm down because this is what it's all about."
Closer to God
Nine-year-old Kyra Cooper placed her eucharistic pledge in the ark with a strong promise.
"I want to be closer to God," she told the WCR.
Her mother, Irene Duazo-Cooper is a Grade 6 French immersion teacher at Mother Teresa School. Two of her students - Dominique Bilodeau and Joshua Gervais - carried the ark replica into the church.
"The conversations we had in class stemmed from Christianity and what the covenant means," Duazo-Cooper said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that makes the children realize what Christianity is all about."
Afterward, the archbishop told the WCR that he has noticed a real interest in what the ark symbolizes.
"I'm really taken with the way they are responding to the invitation to make these eucharistic commitments, whether it's to pray more or serve the poor," he said.
"It's really touching a chord because it's so unique."