Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 21, 2008
Eucharistic Congress touches local Catholics
Church's universality touches pilgrims from the archdiocese
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- CNS photo/ Nancy Wiechec
Silent prayer is offered during eucharistic adoration at the Eucharistic Congress. Catholics from the Edmonton Archdiocese who attended the Congress said they experienced the universality of the church during the congress.
Erickson, a member of the archdiocesan RCIA Committee, said she felt the Lord's presence throughout the congress, especially during the liturgy and the procession.
"On the night of the procession through Quebec City the people were singing and we had candles and people came out from their homes and stood out and watched us and joined in the singing. There was just this wonderful sense of God's presence."
Added Erickson: "What really touched me though was the spirituality from the poor countries, like the cardinals and bishops that spoke from South America and the Philippines and China. Their spirituality of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is so deeply tied to mission, to service to the people, to service to the world around us."
That idea is part of our thinking in the Western world and the Church here does help the poor, she said. "But it comes through so differently in these people from the poor countries. It comes out in everything that they say."
Andrew Papenbrock, congress coordinator for the Edmonton Archdiocese, said the congress was well organized and included good teachings.
Like Erickson, Papenbrock sensed the universality of the Church at the congress.
"When we bring people from all over the world to an international event it shows how we are a universal Church," he said. "That was especially reflected in the daily catechesis sessions where we would have cardinals and bishops from around the world talking and preaching to us about our faith, in particular our faith in the Eucharist."
One clear message from the Eucharistic Congress is that faith has to be lived in the community, not just in the churches, Papenbrock said. "That's what we are called to do. And that was the overall sentiment of the congress. It's about living it for the life of the world."
Added Papenbrock: "The congress challenged my faith, reaffirmed my faith and called me to action again."
For Jean Sult, director of the Edmonton archdiocesan choir and member of the Eucharistic Congress' International choir, the event was "a good experience in many ways."
"The only problem was we really didn't get to witness much of the congress, except for the Masses because we were rehearsing all the time," she laughed. "We had 61 pieces to sing during the six Masses that we sang at." The choir sang in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Latin.
Homilies at the Masses were excellent and the music was "very wonderful," Sult said.
- CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
A chalice used during the Eucharistic Congress.
The problem, she noted, was that the choir was called "international" when it wasn't. "Out of 60 people (in the choir) there were only 16 from outside Quebec, including two from the United States," she said. "It was mostly Quebecois and we were looking forward to having people from all over the world."
But there were many good things, Sult added. "Once the congress started, it was very busy and we had enough inspiration. I'm glad I went because I learned a lot of things from many points of view."
One thing she learned is that "when you do something like this it is very important to have conductors that are also liturgists, who know the liturgy and who are faithful people," she said.
Sult was concerned about the lack of spirituality in the choir. "There was not one prayer uttered in this choir, not one. It was all music."
Choir leaders did provide catechesis in the training period but the catechesis was in French and the people who didn't understand French well could not participate.
"So we decided to hold our own catechesis," noted Sult, who speaks some French.
As a result of this experience, Sult decided to add some French to the repertoire of the archdiocesan choir.
"We have two official languages in this country and we should respect that," she said.
The session with Jean Vanier that Sult attended "was unbelievably beautiful. He is so gentle, clear and Christ-like. This is what I expected from the Eucharistic Congress and I got it from that session definitely."
Vanier spoke about God's love for every human being no matter who they are or what they are or where they come from. "We have to emulate that love," Sult said. "We have to be respectful of everybody."
Sult, a member of Edmonton's St. Emeric Parish, said she felt the Lord's presence at all the Masses and the adoration sessions she attended.
"There were three chapels and most of the time they were full or close to full," she noted. "The times I went I just felt the vibes of so many people coming for this very reason - to adore Christ."
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