Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 25, 2007
Ark of the New Covenant helped faithful grow in love for the Eucharist
From Olds to Lloydminster, Ark touched thousands
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Students from Notre Dame School and St. Benedict School in Leduc take a look as they walk past the Ark of the New Covenant June 14 at St. Michael's Church.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
After its arrival June 8 in the Edmonton Archdiocese, the Ark of the New Covenant visited a dozen communities, bedazzled hundreds of pairs of eyes and received thousands of pledges for action from young children to the most elderly.
From Olds to Lloydminster, where it spent Father's Day (June 17) before travelling to the St. Paul Diocese, the ark was a beautiful symbol of the covenant with God, gathering people in numerous processions, liturgical celebrations and community events.
Having the ark present during the Corpus Christi procession June 10 was a memorable moment for Archbishop Richard Smith.
"A priority for me is always to help people grow in their love for the Eucharist and understand everything it means and calls us to do. Any opportunity we have to deepen our love for it, is welcomed," he said.
"The Corpus Christi procession, having the opportunity to give witness to the city while walking down Jasper Avenue and going to the various sights, was delightful.
"It was moving to take the ark and the Blessed Sacrament to the sick at the hospital. But also to stand in the shadow of the legislature, praying for people who serve our country in so many different capacities, was really something."
The ark will travel across Canada and be present for the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City next June .
Following the June 8 morning Mass at St. Stephen's Parish in Olds, the ark travelled to Stettler, where it was warmly greeted by staff and students at Christ the King (K-8) School.
Procession to church
Acting principal Klara Van Straten said the children were excited and honoured to have Smith come to their school. They held an assembly before a lively 10-minute procession to Christ the King Church.
"The children were singing as the archbishop came in with the ark. He talked to the children, explaining the icons. He discussed what their commitments stood for as they were putting them into the ark."
One student asked the archbishop about his commitment.
"He said he wanted to get around and meet more children in his journey with the ark. The procession was wonderful because the archbishop walked among the children and sang with them," Van Straten said.
Smith said he enjoyed that moment.
"We just talked among ourselves informally, about the various commitments they wanted to make. It was very moving. They received the ark with an understanding appropriate to their age, but there was a real interest to know what the Eucharist was all about."
The ark made stops in Rocky Mountain House, Red Deer and Sylvan Lake. It travelled to Drayton Valley, Edson and Hinton, as well as Edmonton and Leduc. On its final leg, it ventured to Vegreville, Wainwright and Lloydminster.
"I was so pleased to see the diocese so excited about this. I'm glad we were able to embrace it," Smith said.
Smith noted the effort by Andrew Papenbrock, coordinator of the ark's visit. "He barely allowed himself time to eat."
Along with Papenbrock, Knights of Columbus member Tony Lemay travelled every kilometre with the ark. The Knights paid for the 40-kg wooden vessel to travel across the archdiocese.
"Especially with the young people, there is a real interest in what it is, how it was made and an explanation of the icons," said Lemay, a member of St. Nicholas Council.
The ark was made available for adoration June 15 during the Western Canadian Catholic Stewardship Conference in Edmonton, where Father Jim Kaptein was pleased to spend a moment.
Kaptein, pastor of St. Eugene Parish in Nipawin, Sask, where the ark will visit in July, was surprised to see the ark at the conference until he reflected a moment.
"For people to come here thinking they must build up the Church through their gifts and talents while saying it can happen only in the presence of the Lord - that's why the ark is here. It's a good symbolism."
Its final day in the archdiocese was a triple celebration.
The ark was present for all three Masses as well as for an hour of eucharistic adoration, said Father Jan Sobkowicz, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Lloydminster.
"There was a good turnout for adoration. Afterward, a seminarian (Dean Dowle, second year) gave a presentation about the eucharistic congress," he said.
"It was a very nice day."