Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 8, 2010
Whistler priest skis, serves the Lord
Olympic venues promise to be a place of prayer and sightseeing
THE B.C. CATHOLIC
VANCOUVER - During the 2010 Winter Olympics, most ski runs on the Whistler Blackcomb venue will remain open, and Msgr. Jerry Desmond from Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church in Whistler plans to take advantage of the opportunity.
An avid skier, Desmond said he does not plan to buy any tickets for Olympic events. However, he is going to strap on his skis and sneak a peek at some of the alpine events like the giant slalom and the super-G.
He plans to take one of the lifts at Whistler Creekside up the mountain to ski down to an ideal spot to watch certain portions of the events.
"I don't plan to buy any tickets, but I'll go up the hill to watch the downhill skiers," he explained. "You can watch the skiers from the top of one of the other runs."
Desmond is also heading up the Catholic contingent for the multifaith centre in the athletes' Olympic Village in Whistler.
"We're going to have daily Mass at the centre and three Masses on Sunday," Desmond said. "Confession will be available as need be."
The Olympic Village buildings, including the multifaith centre, are part of Whistler's newest neighbourhood. After the Feb. 12-28 Olympics and March 12-21 Paralympics, the buildings will be converted into housing.
In Vancouver, an interfaith working group is operating a multifaith centre in the Olympic Village during the Winter Games and Paralympics.
Pat Gillespie, a member of the interfaith working group, told The B.C. Catholic that the centre would be "a place for athletes, team members, officials, and the volunteer workforce to come for devotion, Scripture, quiet prayer and other services."
David Wells, coordinator of the interfaith working group, said the games are periods of stress and high emotion for athletes. Athletes lean on their faith in these moments in two ways.
"First, those whose faith is a strong part of their life," Wells said, "that doesn't change in competition, and second, those who face a specific challenge and seek counsel, encouragement, and prayer."
Wells, who has been involved in past Olympics, said athletes grow intensely focused before their competitions and spend time alone.
"During (the event) they may seek prayer or encouragement, and afterward they tend to be more relaxed but often are with family and friends," he said.
ALL FAITHS SERVED
Twenty-seven Christian chaplains will volunteer in Vancouver and Whistler; representatives of Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism will also serve at the centres.
Pope Benedict has invoked "the abundant blessings of almighty God" on all those involved with the Olympics and Paralympics.
In letters to Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver and Bishop David Monroe of Kamloops, in whose dioceses the games will take place, the pope sent his good wishes to participating athletes, organizers, and community volunteers.
The pope thanked them for "generously cooperating in the celebration of this significant international event."
He recalled how his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, said in a 2000 homily that sport "can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between people and to establishing the new civilization of love."
"May sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations," Pope Benedict added.
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