If the Pope asked for your opinion or advice, would you give it? In fact, the Pope does just this as often as he convenes a Synod of Bishops. The word “synod” comes from the Greek word meaning assembly and since 1965, under the instruction of Blessed Pope Paul VI, synods of bishops have been called biennially for more than 50 years. It was a synod of bishops in the late 90s that actually prompted the establishment of this magazine, The Carillon, so that proceedings and information could begin being shared around the diocese.
As often as a synod is convoked, a representation of bishops from all around the world come together with the expectation of the Holy Father that they have consulted the faithful of their respective regions in order to bring their thoughts to the discussion. Next year, this will happen again under the chosen theme: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. It is the wish of Pope Francis to learn from the diverse perspectives of the universal Church what are the experiences, opportunities and obstacles for youth in our modern world to practice their faith and discover God’s plan for their lives. In the preparatory document which was distributed among all of the dioceses of the world, a set of questions was proposed at the end to guide the efforts of bishops to solicit the feedback of the young people among their flocks. In the Diocese of Calgary, under the direction of Bishop McGrattan, we are working on an exciting and innovative way to use these questions and engage in this discussion.
With the cooperation of the Office of Youth Ministry and the Office of Vocations, a team of young people along with those directly involved in working among them have come together to design a format of consultation which will be conducted throughout the diocese. We have undertaken to organize this process into ten distinct stages involving two phases of surveys. Using a digital platform of survey generation, we will be able to reach a diverse and vast population of the diocese. The idea behind the two phases is to use the first phase in order to collect demographic information about the respondents and thereby organize them into four broad contexts which will determine the style of survey they receive in the second phase. These customized surveys will produce more representative results of modern youth and young adults’ response to faith and vocation. The four broad categories have been identified as those: willingly practicing Faith; unwillingly practicing Faith (due to the influence of others); not practicing Faith due to lack of interest; & not practicing Faith due to disagreement with it.
On an experimental basis and with the invaluable collaboration of the Calgary Separate School District, we will launch our digital surveys among high school students before the widespread use of the surveys throughout the rest of the diocese later in the fall. We will compile the anonymous results into a report which can then be sent to the Vatican in advance of the Synod as well as for our own use in shaping the future of youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of Calgary. When the Pope asks for your input, one is wise to give it!
Youth and Young Adults Ministry
The word that most comes to mind, following the One Rock Festival of Faith, is joy. This makes sense, when you look at the weekend. What is there not to be joyful about? The musicians were phenomenal, the speakers were thought-provoking, and the Masses were breathtaking. But the joy that was felt at One Rock comes from a deeper place, from more than just an experience, or an event, or a talk. The joy that was palpable among attendees at One Rock can only come from One – from God.
Similar to Mary, during the One Rock weekend, I realized how much God has done for me, how truly blessed I am and how tremendous His love is for me. I think that many people realized the same for themselves. We had the opportunity to spend an entire weekend praising God, attending Mass, hearing about conversion experiences, learning about the love that God has for each of us. What an incredibly blessed way to spend a weekend!
Someone asked how we judge the success of an event such as One Rock. My mind instantly thought about the number of tickets sold, the number of people in attendance, number of volunteers… By these criteria, One Rock was truly a success! But pondering this later, I came to realize that the success of a large event like this one is to be judged by something else, something greater. Was there joy? Did even one person come to experience the love of God in their lives, and did that in turn lead them to the joy of the Gospel, the joy that we, as Catholics, live and seek? If one person had an experience of their faith that led them closer to Christ, the “One Rock” of our lives, then the festival was an overwhelming success.
If joy is an accurate criterion, then the joy felt throughout the Festival of Faith speaks for itself. There were so many smiles and so much laughter and fun during the music events. You could have heard a pin drop during the talks as everyone listened intently. The beautiful Adoration Chapel always had people inside, visiting with Our Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament. The beautiful play, in celebration of Our Lady of Fatima, left many people in awe. The many acts, performances, and activities throughout One Rock are too many to mention, but each one played a part in making One Rock an unforgettable, and truly joyous, experience.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name.” The Mighty One indeed did a many great things at One Rock. Only by trusting in Him did we host this festival, and only with His grace could the immense joy be felt throughout the weekend. What is left now is for us to praise God, and be grateful for the many gifts he bestowed upon us.
Every year, the City of Calgary welcomes one festival after the other – highlighting the best of everything – including food festivals, flower festivals, and cultural festivals, among many others. This year, the Catholic community will host its eighth annual faith festival, One Rock, with Bishop William McGrattan!
Thousands of young adults, and their families, from across Western Canada, will gather at One Rock, the biggest faith festival in Canada to enjoy a faith-filled weekend!
Young people of today face the most aggressive and invasive life challenges of our time; a constant barrage of deceptive distractions vie for their attention, leading them towards a faithless future. It is in the service of others that we turn our attention to the young people in our parishes, universities and communities, and give them tools to enrich their lives.
At the Wine and Cheese One Rock fundraiser event held a couple of weeks ago, Bishop McGrattan quoted Pope Francis who said to the Canadian western bishops, “We need to listen to our young people and work for them.” We all have to support the festival in every possible way, and promote One Rock to serve our young people for when we do, we are “serving the Lord” [Eph. 6:7].
One Rock has touched the young adults’ lives in different ways. One Rock has produced many good fruits of our faith, including hundreds of young people who now give more to their community and local church.
Enthusiastic attendees from last year said, “Through One Rock, we developed a stronger connection to our faith, which was strengthened through each other. As a result of our experience at One Rock, we have started many youth activities at St. Basil’s parish, such as a scout and guides program, and our own youth summer camp two weeks following One Rock. Ever since last summer, we have been counting down the days until One Rock 2017 and we are very excited to relive some of our best moments as not just a youth group, but as a family.”
One Rock has also been a source of vocations to Catholic priesthood and religious life. One young lady shared that, “One Rock was where I found my vocation by listening to one of the Sisters of Life who was talking about the joy of consecrated life. Right after that, we had time of adoration and I had a beautiful moment where I heard God speaking to me, ‘this could be you!’ One Rock has changed my life!”
This year we are hosting many Canadian artists and presenters who promise to make our music festival more exciting, fun, unique and faith filled! Some of the artists include The Informants, Flood the Stone, and several local talents as well. We are delighted to welcome Leah Darrow and Fr. Raymond De Souza as our main speakers this year! Leah is a former US model, daughter, sister, wife and mother… but most especially she is a redeemed daughter of God! Our Sunday program will showcase the amazing multiculturalism of Canada on its 150th anniversary.
Services including free babysitting, and shuttle buses from Calgary to the festival site will be offered. Exhibition booths will offer much to browse through and purchase. Camping at the festival site for the weekend is highly encouraged.
Its positive energy is contagious and has people coming back year after year!
Pope Francis exhorted the young people of the world by saying, “The one who evangelizes is evangelized, and the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy.”
When asked about One Rock this year, a wise young man said, “it is impossible to write about the spirit that the people brought to One Rock; you would have had to be there to have experienced it.” Bring your family and friends and make One Rock part of your summer plans!
One Rock 2017 will take place on August 11, 12 and 13 at the beautiful and awe-inspiring location Tsuut’ina Rodeo Grounds in Redwood Meadows, Bragg Creek area, AB.
For more information, to purchase tickets, or to sign up as a volunteer please visit: www.onerock.ca
Let me confess that I am someone who tends to wear his clothes until they virtually fall apart. My favourite pair of shoes is over ten years old, and my sweaters weren’t much younger, with most pitted with an assortment of tears, holes and other character-defining features. In fact, it wasn’t until I had a business meeting and noticed one of the attendees fixated on my shredded sleeve that I decided, finally, to replace them.
My first thought for the fate of my trusty companions was a quick burial in the garbage. But as the mercury fell dramatically it occurred to me that perhaps a faded or well-worn sweater, for someone less fortunate, was better than none, and so I dropped them in the local charity bin. I won’t lie. My heart skipped a little at seeing my trusty steeds put out to pasture, but at least, I reasoned, it was a noble retirement.
As is often the way, I thought of those clothes going out into the community and wondered whose home they would join. Would they find their way to a cool retro-hunter keen to show off his thrift-shop chic? Would they be part of a workman’s casual wear, perfect for odd jobs around the house? Or would the charity determine that they weren’t fit for duty after all?
Recently, while volunteering at a soup kitchen, a remarkable situation occurred. As I was moving through the crowded hall I noticed an older gentleman shuffling forward. He set himself up at a crowded table and wriggled out of his threadbare jacket. To my surprise I saw that he was wearing one of my recently discarded sweaters. I recognized the torn sleeve, the holes peeking out beneath the armpits, and the frayed edges all around. I couldn’t help but move towards him, and when he saw me he smiled. “Check out my new threads,” he said, rubbing his sleeves happily. “Looking good,” I answered, humbled and abashed. “Yes,” he laughed emphatically, “yes I do.”
If there are such things as life-defining moments, then that was surely one of them. I will never again take my good fortune for granted, and I will always remember that all gifts matter, be they large or small. More importantly, I know that I must go out into the world to offer service. Not just to render good to others, but because my soul needs feeding, and there is no greater meal.
… because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. -2 Kings 22.19
In 2015, the first Walk for One Rock took place over a period of two days. When Fr. Joseph Nagothu heard Bishop Henry’s request for priests to get more involved, he decided to respond to the invitation and began the Walk for One Rock to raise more awareness for the One Rock Festival. The desire was that many others would participate in this walk. The journey began at St. Rita’s Parish in Rockyford, Alberta, home of the first One Rock Festival. The participants made the 80 km journey by foot to St. Thomas More Parish in Calgary. This pilgrimage walk created the opportunity to spread the word about this great festival of faith, as well as to raise necessary funds for it. Together the pilgrims walked, sang and prayed, all rejoicing in the name of Jesus. Some walked the whole distance, and others the distance that their time would allow.
It was an enriching experience where we were able to spend time with others who believe in Jesus. While walking we met strangers on the journey, and shared bread together thanks to the generosity of volunteers who prepared sandwiches, and provided places for us to stop along the way to be refreshed. To journey together with love and faith in God, can be considered the reward for having had the strength to complete the journey. Not only was there a spiritual reward, but the participants were welcomed to a huge feast prepared by the parishioners of St. Thomas More Parish.
Inspired by the Lord and everyone who participated in the walk, we rejoiced! We all shared a memorable experience, and were not discouraged by the challenges that were encountered. Having the chance to dedicate your actions, your time and yourself fully to the most worthy cause in our lives ensured memories for a lifetime. Now you can be a part of the experience this year!
Another Walk for One Rock will be taking place on Friday, June 9, and for a $5.00 entrance fee all are welcome to join several priests of the Diocese for this occasion. Again, we will start at St. Rita’s Parish in Rockyford, and finish in Strathmore. The walk should be full of spiritual and physical rewards for all who participate. Those who wish to participate or donate please go to www.onerock.ca for more information.