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.
During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin.
Once, as he censured Stalin in a public meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. "You were one of Stalin's colleagues. Why didn't you stop him?"
"Who said that?" roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle.
Then Khrushchev replied quietly, "Now you know why."
Theme: Moral courage is always in short supply. It is the fashion to keep our heads down and go with the herd; but this is not the way to follow Christ.
“BE NOT AFRAID”
Jeremiah is dropped into a well to die, but is saved by a foreigner
Persevere with Jesus, for we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
Jesus calls for total loyalty, even if it causes severe dissension
Jeremiah’s role was to condemn idolatry and help his people rebuild their faith. But the ruling elite blocked all his efforts and even wanted to kill him, trying to make it seem that he died of the general famine afflicting the country. As a shy young man, Jeremiah’s whole being shuddered before the vocation he felt, which was “to tear up and to knock down, to destroy and to overthrow” (1:10). In his own descriptions we see him on the verge of despair. “The word of the Lord has brought on me insult and derision all day long” (20:8).
Jeremiah inner struggle was intense. “Why is my suffering endless, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” (15:18). He even goes so far as to say, “Cursed be the day when I was born” (20:18). He was going through what St John of the Cross would later call “the dark night of the soul,” when someone specially chosen by God seems abandoned by him. By such suffering the heart of Jeremiah was purified, making him a mighty prophet.
Instead of preaching externals like Law, circumcision, sacrifice and Temple, Jeremiah preached a religion that was inward, a more personal relationship with God. Deep within his people’s psyche God would plant his Law, writing it on their hearts (Jer 31:33). Jeremiah’s role was to condemn idolatry and help his people rebuild their faith
Jesus says in the Gospel: “Do you think that I am come to bring peace on earth? No. I tell you, but rather division.”
Each time Jesus decides to follow the Father’s will, it divides him off from those who won’t take the step with him
The problem is that we’ve lost sight of how disruptive and unconventional Jesus was. He talked of Samaritans saving Jewish lives! He praised the father who embraced the son who shamed him! You were to share your cloak and tunic, all you wore, literally! The soldier in the occupying army was to be accompanied not just the one mile but another mile, unbidden.
Jesus parted company with the self-centred behind, not because he wished to but because they did. His open-handed approach to others provoked a clench-fisted reaction in them. They would have to be rid of this challenging presence. The crucifixion was meant to silence him for good. Instead, it gave him the final, supreme option. It not only capped his life of sacrifice but raised up a symbol to disturb us over the centuries. The sacrificed life of Jesus indicates the price to be paid if we are to reach the peace he calls us to.
WYD - CROSS OF CHRIST
The government of Polish Prime Minister Jaruzelski had ordered crucifixes removed from classroom walls, just as they had been banned in factories, hospitals, and other public institutions. Catholic bishops attacked the ban that had stirred waves of anger and resentment all across Poland. Ultimately the government relented, insisting that the law remain on the books, but agreeing not to press for removal of the crucifixes, particularly in the schoolrooms.
But one zealous Communist school administrator in Garwolin decided that the law was the law. So one evening he had seven large crucifixes removed from lecture halls where they had hung since the school's founding in the twenties. Days later, a group of parents entered the school and hung more crosses. The administrator promptly had these taken down as well.
The next day two-thirds of the school's six hundred students staged a sit-in. When heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets. Then they marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by twenty-five hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in support of the protest. Soldiers surrounded the church. But the pictures from inside of students holding crosses high above their heads flashed around the world. So did the words of the priest who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that morning. "There is no Poland without a cross."
Pope’s Homily at St. John Paul II Shrine: “Jesus sends. From the beginning, he wants his to be a Church on the move, a Church that goes out into the world”
“After the great sign of his mercy, we could say that there is no longer a need to add another. Yet one challenge does remain. There is room left for the signs needing to be worked by us, who have received the Spirit of love and are called to spread mercy. It might be said that the Gospel, the living book of God’s mercy that must be continually read and reread, still has many blank pages left. It remains an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practise. Let me ask you this: What are the pages of your books like? Are they blank? May the Mother of God help us in this. May she, who fully welcomed the word of God into her life, give us the grace to be living writers of the Gospel. May our Mother of Mercy teach us how to take concrete care of the wounds of Jesus in our brothers and sisters in need, those close at hand and those far away, the sick and the migrant, because by serving those who suffer we honour the flesh of Christ. May the Virgin Mary help us to spend ourselves completely for the good of the faithful entrusted to us, and to show concern for one another as true brothers and sisters in the communion of the Church, our holy Mother.”
Be not afraid - Persevere with Jesus, for we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
Bishop Frederick Henry
August 14, 2016
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
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” [Mt. 5.7] is the theme of this year’s One Rock Festival as well as the theme of WYD Krakow 2016. Why is mercy so important that the Holy Father is drawing so much attention to it by naming this year an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy? With the rise of moral relativism, we can often forget our need for mercy. We can ignore sin or, even worse, we can mistake sin for something good. Alternatively, we can think that our sin is too big and God’s mercy is too small which St. John Vianney tells us is, “an outright blasphemy which sets a limit to God’s mercy. But it has none: it is infinite. Nothing offends our dear Lord so much as to doubt his mercy.”
In this Jubilee Year, the theme of mercy calls us to identify our sin and to trust in Gods’ infinite mercy for us. We are drawn to accept God’s gift of mercy, to repent, to be forgiven, to be freed, and then, to share God’s mercy with others. At the One Rock Festival, youth will be given the opportunity to not only learn about God’s infinite mercy for them, but also to experience God’s mercy, forgiveness, and healing in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
I first attended One Rock in June of 2011. I had gone to meet and get to know some of the people that I would be travelling with to WYD Madrid later in the summer. Our WYD group was volunteering with the recycling at One Rock and we took shifts throughout the weekend. At One Rock, I ended up meeting one of my best friends and even though we barely knew each other at the time, we camped in the same tent that weekend. Later, on our WYD pilgrimage, we became good friends and stayed in touch. Two years ago at my wedding, she was a bridesmaid. For me, the biggest fruit of One Rock and WYD in my life was Christian fellowship. It was because of these events that I met so many amazing fervent young Catholics, including my husband, who helped me on the path of healing and re-conversion. Their fire helped re-ignite my fire. Their continuing friendship has kept my fire going. Being in a faith centered environment helped all of us to share our faith and love of Christ openly.
Many other young people have also been transformed from attending One Rock. For example, Chelsea Ruy, a student at the University of Calgary, shared her experience of One Rock with me: “I have been attending One Rock for three years now and ever since then, my relationship with God has never been stronger. One Rock is truly a faith-fulfilling experience that will inspire you to bring forth the Word of God to the people around you. Not only is there great music, but there are also many fellow Catholics, volunteers, priests, and bishops that make you feel that sense of belonging
This event has really opened up many doors and revealed many pathways that brought me closer to my faith. Many of the talks that you hear and the music that you sing will give you that feeling of jubilance and joy which is given from the love of God, through One Rock. This is an opportunity that you won’t want to miss as it has helped me not only deepen my faith, but other people’s as well.”
Join us as a participant or volunteer in our WYD at home One Rock Festival. The Festival shares many of the same activities as World Youth Day including: catechesis sessions, sacraments, music, Eucharistic Adoration, camping, and much more. Come to One Rock to learn about God’s mercy and love for you and for the whole world. Then, go out and share God’s mercy as a missionary disciple.