The Office of Youth Ministry is hoping a pilot project will help draw First Nations Youth closer to God, and closer to each other while offering them leadership skills to serve their people today and into the future. The pastors of the First Nation Reserves in southern Alberta met this year on several occasions with pastoral staff and members of the Mission Council who strongly supported the idea of a camp experience for First Nation Youth. The camp was held at Camp Columbus, the Knights of Columbus Camp in Waterton, National Park. A perfect backdrop to wonderful week.
Diocesan Youth Retreat Team (DYRT) coordinator Wesley Raymundo, directed the camp pilot project. He was working with the DYRT members, and religious sisters from the Seeds of the Word, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), and the Daughters of Mary Mother of the Church (DM) as they reached out to 13 high school youth from the Blood Reserve at Standoff, and the Piikani Reserve at Brocket. Youths were offered an experience of fun and faith over the five days, and together they laughed, played games, took part in skits, celebrated Mass, went horse backing riding, took short hikes, made crafts, prayed and sang songs.
Fr. Long Vu from the Siksika Nation in Cluny assisted at the camp as Chaplain for the five-day camp. One of Fr. Long Vu’s parishioners, Kelsey Solway, visited the camp and was encouraged by what she saw. She would like to be more involved next year, and bring some youth from the Siksika Reserve at Cluny. Kelsey shared:
“What I hope is that next year we are able to send more children to St. Kateri from Holy Trinity Parish in Siksika. Fr. Long expressed how important it was for our youth to be involved with building a relationship within the Catholic church and to become more involved. St. Kateri camp is a great way to foster those relationships. I was very impressed and cannot wait to attend next year. We hope that this is an annual event and I hope we can help more of our First Nations youth attend.”
First Nation youth, are not unlike youth in our cities and countryside who are longing for meaning and purpose in their lives. They desire to have fun, and experience God’s presence in their midst. As a diocese, we share a responsibility to reach out to the youth on our Reserves, and to communicate the Good News with them. Building community and relationships by our words and deeds speaks of God’s transforming love of peace and reconciliation, and is part of our mission as Catholics.
The youth who attended the camp came away feeling loved and part of a bigger family, and they were encouraged to be examples to others, to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” [1 Tim: 4]. Selina Young Pine, from the Blood Reserve made sure prior to camp that she told everyone that, “at camp we are family, brothers and sisters.” She was not disappointed when she reflected, “From this camp I have gained more faith, and strength in Jesus, and I am humbled to say that I am a child of God.” Janelle Many Bears, told us that she “loves her new holy family.”
Taila Big Throat of the Blood Reserve summed up her experience by saying: “I really enjoyed coming to this camp; it was very nice meeting everyone and getting to know everyone, and most of all sharing each and everyone’s stories about faith. I really loved how everyone was Catholic and we all love and share in our God.”
Justin Lang, one of the counsellors for the week commented that “he had gained an incredible experience which was getting to know the youth, and being able to see them grow in their faith and really bond together with each other and with counselors to become more of a family.”
Let us continue to shape what has begun. Together we can build a civilization of love, and transform the communities that make up our diocese. We cannot just talk about what is possible, but we must have the courage to get involved, and take action going forth to make a difference. As the youth step forward and are encouraged in their faith they too will be formed as leaders who reflect the Gospel message in their lives, helping to transform the communities that they have grown up in, and also the world itself. St. Kateri is quoted as saying, “Who will teach me what is most pleasing to God, that I may do it?” May we do our part to reach out to the youth on the Reserves, and help to strengthen their faith.
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
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.
The blessings that have been born out of the One Rock Festival of Faith would not be possible if it were not for the donors and sponsors who back the festival on a yearly basis. In the Diocese of Calgary we have a lot to be thankful for, and particularly for the diverse and ever expanding programs for our youth and young adults. Over the last eight years our programs have expanded from 24 youth programs to more than 37, and young adult ministries encompassed either within these programs or attached to universities, and other post-secondary education facilities, and groups. Every year One Rock strives to reach those who are not only within these existing programs, but also those in the universities, who are not affiliated with a church community on a weekly basis, and to the wider community as well.
The number of Roman Catholics in the Diocese of Calgary has doubled in size over the last 19 years. This is exciting news, but it also means that it costs more to run the programs, and we need you to help us. Will you share of the abundance of what you have received as gift from God? Come and hear what your generosity does for young people, and how the festival has made a difference in their lives.
Bishop McGrattan and the One Rock team invite you to a Wine and Cheese event to hear of the great things that God has done for us, and to encourage you to step out in faith to share of your treasure.
One aspect of our Catholic life where the beauty of the Church shines through is our sense of being a community. And in this community, everyone pushes each other and helps them grow in their conviction in living the Christian life. Sometimes, we do this intentionally, such as when we provide mentorship to people through the different parish ministries. But just as often, we also do them unintentionally. It often comes to us as a surprise when something that we’ve done in the past – something we thought was seemingly small — has tremendously inspired others, and we just did not know it. Something similar to that happened last year.
Enter Fr. Joseph Nagothu of St. Rita’s Parish in Rockyford, Alberta. Responding to Bishop Henry’s call to encourage the youth in different parishes to participate in One Rock, Fr. Joseph said, “that’s why I was thinking: how can I contribute to One Rock as a priest of the Diocese?” That was when he decided to walk from Rockyford to Calgary, with the hopes of raising awareness for One Rock.
After months of meticulous logistical planning, the walk began after Sunday Mass at St. Rita’s parish, where Fr. Joseph was joined by his parishioners who pledged to walk with him for the first few kilometers – the young and old alike, some with baby strollers with them. Along the way, parishioners from Chestermere and from the different parishes of the Diocese joined him. What touched me the most was when a young man living in one of the houses along the route, went out to see what was happening and ended up joining us in the walk for a few hours, all the while talking about One Rock and our Catholic faith.
This year, Walk for One Rock will once again bring together people from the different parishes of our diocese to raise awareness for this festival that has brought so many closer to Christ. On July 10, 2016 everyone is invited to join in the Sunday Mass at St. Rita’s for the send-off to everyone participating in the walk. Or, better yet, join in the walk! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every single parish in Calgary would have a representing team in this journey? Pledge a kilometer or two (or more) and share with people along the way the purpose behind it. It is always a great privilege to walk the road God has set before us, and in sharing the Gospel with those whom we meet.
Walk for One Rock 2016
July 10 - 11, 2016