Theodore and Johansel Ng travel 500 kms a week to help a group in Sherwood Park prepare for World Youth Day in Kraków.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Theodore and Johansel Ng travel 500 kms a week to help a group in Sherwood Park prepare for World Youth Day in Kraków.

June 27, 2016
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Theodore Ng and his younger brother Jonhansel Ng are determined to get themselves and a group of Sherwood Park youths to Kraków, Poland for World Youth Day.

They have the energy, the passion and the love to make it happen and so volunteered to coordinate preparations at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, although they no longer live in Sherwood Park.

The Ng brothers live and work in Grande Prairie and commute weekly to organize meetings and fundraisers. Jonhansel is a project engineer with a lumber company and Theodore a process engineer in a pulp mill.

They don't mind the 500-km commute. "It's honestly a pleasure to work with each and every member of the group," Theodore says.

The 14 young people bound for Kraków range in age from 18 to 32. Through potato sales, pancake breakfasts, bottle drives, dances and dueling pianos, the group has raised $34,000, plus another $7,500 for future WYD groups. They started their campaign with $7,500 left from previous groups and are returning the favour.

Fundraising is but one aspect of the preparation. WYD group members are also sharing their time, talent and treasure with the community. "A lot of our members are active members in the church as proclaimers, ushers, part of the music ministry," says Theodore, 26.

The group meets every two to three weeks to plan activities; the work is carried out by smaller sub-committees. Prayer is part of every meeting.

ACTIVE IN 2 PARISHES

The Ng brothers are also involved in the music ministry and youth group at the parish in Grande Prairie.

Jonhansel has lived in Grande Prairie for two years and thought he should go to Kraków with the group there.

But he missed that opportunity and then realized OLPH, where Theodore was still involved, had little planned for World Youth Day.

Theodore moved to Grande Prairie in January so his connections to OLPH were still fresh.

The brothers had a talk and "decided it was a good idea for us to come down and help organize things at OLPH."

They have never been to World Youth Day, and so they are filled with excitement. "One reason why I'm going is I want to bring the youth; I think it is a great exposure," said Jonhansel, 24.

"For me personally, it's a way to grow spiritually and to meet people from other cultures," explains Theodore. "It's good to see what kind of traditions they have and to be able to talk with people my age to proclaim the faith together."

The OLPH group will leave July 18 and spend a few days in the Diocese of Wroclaw learning about Polish culture. From July 25 to 31, they will be in Kraków taking part in WYD activities.

AN ABSOLUTE BLAST

Filmmaker Lucy Cook, 18, joined the group after talking with previous WYD attendees. She is excited about seeing the pope and "meeting people who are like-minded from all around the world.

"Once I get there it's going to be an absolute blast because I'm going to meet a bunch of new friends from around the world," Cook said.

"It's like building my relationship with Christ too. I'm almost waiting for him to show me this new journey that he is going to bring me on."

Amanda Ciezki, a student at The King's University, has been waiting for years to participate in WYD. When she was younger she saw others going, so when she came of age she took the plunge. Plus, it's a unique way to honour her Polish roots.

"This is something that's really important to me," said Ciezki, also 18. "I want to increase my spiritual faith, and I want to see how many different youths around the world have the same beliefs that I do. It's going to be awesome and truly amazing to witness that many people there for one sole purpose."

Ciezki is also interested in hearing from Pope Francis, whom she described as "one of the most forward-thinking popes we've had in a very long time."