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.
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.
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.
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