The World Youth Days have a lasting effect on the young people that participate from around the world. And the same is true for the host cities. In this special presentation for the ten year anniversary of WYD Toronto, former National Director and CEO of WYD Toronto, and current CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. visits some of the memorable sites, recounts the event and shares his personal memories of Blessed John Paul II with host Sebastian Gomes.
Watch the full video of John Paul II being greeted by the Youth of the World in Exhibition Place, 2002.
By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB for The B.C. Catholic
This is an excerpt from a speech given in June by Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, called, “Is the Media Against the Catholic Church, and Why?”
The challenge and opportunity I wish to mention is what the Church has learned from the media about World Youth Days, and what the media has learned from the Church’s experience of them.
I cannot help but recall Cardinal James Francis Stafford’s stirring words spoken to the throngs of young people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and its vicinity at the opening ceremonies of the rather apocalyptic Jubilee World Youth Day Aug. 15, 2000.
Addressing a visibly moved and aging Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Stafford said, “Holy Father! These young people come as pilgrims from 157 nations. Not too long ago it was ominous when thousands of young people moved across national borders. Citizens trembled in fear. They closed and barricaded their doors. Those hosts of young men signified armies of war, instruments of destruction, plague, and darkness.
“At your initiative, Holy Father, these young men and women of Europe and of the world have formed a different kind of army. They are ‘on pilgrimage from the Lord.’ They reflect the beauty envisioned by you and the Fathers of the Council.”
In 2002 World Youth Day hit Toronto at a very low ebb of the Church’s history. The historical backdrop included the aftermath of September 11 and a world steeped in terror, fear and war; a Church enmeshed in a major sex abuse scandal in the United States with a Pontiff who was visibly aging and feeble; and a Canadian culture of religious indifference and increasing secularity… …Read More
Jesus made his own the call to holiness already addressed by God to the people of the old covenant: “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy (Lev 19:2)”. He repeated it continually by word and by the example of his life. Especially in the Sermon on the Mount he left to the Church a code of Christian holiness. The history of Christian holiness is the proof that by living in the spirit of the Beatitudes proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5:3-12), Christ’s exhortation in the parable of the vine and the branches is realized: “Abide in me, and I in you…. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (Jn 15:4, 5). These words are verified in many ways in the lives of individual Christians, thereby showing, down the centuries, the manifold riches and beauty of the holiness of the Church.
Become the Saints of the New Millennium
Pope John Paul II spoke frequently to young people about the call to holiness and the vocation to be saints. Who can forget his message for World Youth Day 2000 in Rome? He wrote to his dear young friends throughout the world unforgettable words that became the rallying cry for the Jubilee’s greatest celebration: “Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium! Be contemplative, love prayer; be coherent with your faith and generous in the service of your brothers and sisters, be active members of the Church and builders of peace. To succeed in this demanding project of life, continue to listen to His Word, draw strength from the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance. The Lord wants you to be intrepid apostles of his Gospel and builders of a new humanity”.
Two years later for World Youth Day 2002 in Canada, John Paul II took up once again the theme of holiness and saints in The Way of the Cross on Good Friday in his Private Chapel (25 March 2005)his message to the young people of the world: “Just as salt gives flavor to food and light illumines the darkness, so too holiness gives full meaning to life and makes it reflect God’s glory. How many saints, especially young saints, can we count in the Church’s history! In their love for God their heroic virtues shone before the world, and so they became models of life which the Church has held up for imitation by all…. Through the intercession of this great host of witnesses, may God make you too, dear young people, the saints of the third millennium!”
At the concluding Mass of Canada’s World Youth Day at Downsview Park on Sunday, 28 July, 2002, Pope John Paul issued a stirring challenge that still resounds in North America, in particular, today: “And if, in the depths of your hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the Cross! At difficult moments in the Church’s life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit, just as Kateri Tekakwitha did here in America and so many other young people have done”.
In announcing the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne – an event he would not live to see, Pope John Paul II sent a letter to the young people of the world: “Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn often to them to pray for their intercession.”
Attending his first World Youth Day as pope, Benedict XVI built on the his predecessor’s repeated invitations to young people and at the great vigil of Cologne’s World Youth Day on August 20, 2005, Benedict cried out at Marienfeld:
“It is the great multitude of the saints – both known and unknown – in whose lives the Lord has opened up the Gospel before us and turned over the pages; he has done this throughout history and he still does so today. In their lives, as if in a great picture-book, the riches of the Gospel are revealed. They are the shining path which God himself has traced throughout history and is still tracing today.”
“The saints… are the true reformers. Now I want to express this in an even more radical way: only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world.”
Friends of God
During his Pontificate, Pope John Paul II proclaimed 1,338 Blesseds and 482 Saints. Young adults need heroes and heroines today, and the Pope gave us outstanding models of holiness and humanity. In a world that desperately seeks authentic heroes and heroines, John Paul II presented us with the real heroes and heroines of the faith who will never let us down.
Pope John Paul II reminded us that the heroes and heroines the world offers the world today are terribly flawed. They leave us so empty. The real “stars” of Pope John Paul II are the Saints and Blesseds who did not try to be regarded as heroes, or to shock or provoke. He taught us that the saints aren’t just people to turn to when something is lost or a situation seems hopeless; they are examples to follow in prayer and in efforts to reform and renew the church. If we befriend the blesseds and saints and imitate their lives, we too embark on the path of holiness.
We must honestly ask ourselves if the Holy Father’s important teaching on the Blesseds and Saints has become an integral part of our catechesis, Evangelization and formation of young people today. Have we have placed our pastoral work with young people under the heading of holiness? Have we invited them to truly desire to be saints?
When the throngs of people — so many of them the young men and women who were his spiritual sons and daughters — began chanting “Santo Subito” at the end of the Pope’s funeral mass on April 8, 2005, what were they really chanting? They were crying out that in Karol Wojtyla, they saw someone who lived with God and lived with us. He was a sinner who experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness. He looked at us, loved us, embraced us, healed us and gave us hope. He taught us not to be afraid. He showed us how to live, how to love, how to forgive and how to die. He taught us how to embrace the cross in the most excruciating moments of life, knowing that the cross was not God’s final answer.
If the Church proclaims Pope John Paul II blessed, it is because he lived with God, relying totally on God’s infinite, divine mercy, going forward with God’s strength and power, believing in the impossible, loving one’s enemies and persecutors, forgiving in the midst of evil and violence, hoping beyond all hope, and leaving the world a better place. Pope John Paul II gave flesh and blood to the Beatitudes throughout his entire lifetime. He let us catch a glimpse of the greatness and holiness to which we are all called, and showed us the face of God as we journey on our pilgrim way on earth. A great part of the success of his message is due to the fact that he was surrounded by a tremendous cloud of witnesses who stood by him and strengthened him throughout his life. Is it any wonder, then, that millions of young people throughout the world loved him and took up his invitation to become the “saints of the new millennium?”
The Church is the “home of holiness” and holiness is our most accurate image, our authentic calling card, and our greatest gift to the world. It describes best who and what we are and strive to be. In the life of Karol Wojtyla, holiness was contagious. Pope John Paul II was not only “Holy Father” but a Father who was and is Holy. On 2 April, 2005, he died a public, global death that stopped the world for several days. On 8 April, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the world that the Holy Father was watching and blessing us ‘from the window of the Father’s House’”.
As we prepare for Sunday May 1, 2011, the Beatification of this great servant and priest, and a real hero for young people today, let us beg his intercession and blessing. May he intercede for us and give us the desire to become holy and to be saints.
Thomas Rosica, csb, CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Canada; Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; served as National Director and CEO of World Youth Day 2002, Canada
(CCCB- Ottawa)… More than 500,000 young pilgrims from all over the world, including 6,000 from Canada, are expected in Madrid, Spain, to participate in the XXVIth World Youth Day (WYD). After Sydney in 2008 and at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI, young people from around the world will descend on the Spanish capital city of Madrid, from August 16-21, 2011, to experience this international gathering, whose theme will be “Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith”. Among other countries sending a large delegation to WYD in Spain are Italy with 90,000, Spain with 83,000, France with 50,000, the USA with 30,000, Germany with 16,000, and Australia with 4,300 young pilgrims.
Among the Canadian participants are over 470 young people from the Archdiocese of Edmonton, 510 from the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and over 1000 from various Quebec Dioceses traveling with the Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Montreal. Nearly one hundred priests and 30 seminarians from Canada will be part of the Canadian delegation in Spain.
From August 11 to 15, 61 Spanish dioceses will host thousands of young people, among which 2,500 of our 6,000 young Canadian pilgrims, giving them the opportunity to participate in various activities. The daily program varies from one diocese to the other, but it always includes cultural activities, visits to tourist sites, festivities, and especially, prayer and celebrations.
On the morning of August 16, for the first time in the history of Canada’s participation at WYD, the Canadian pilgrims will gather together for a national celebration, in Madrid’s Palacio de Deportes. The gathering will include a special Morning Prayer, music and testimonies from young Canadians. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., will preside at the celebration and Archbishop Richard Smith, as Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), will greet the assembly in the name of the CCCB. The Canadian Ambassador to Spain, Mr. Graham Shantz, and the Spanish Consul General to Canada, Mr. Francisco Pascual de la Parte, will also be present at the gathering.
Throughout the week in Madrid, Canadians will find a special home at the “Love and Life Site”, at the Palacio de Deportes. This rest area is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life who have partnered with Canada’s Salt and Light Television and Holy Cross Family Ministries.
Canadian delegation to WYD 2011, in Madrid
In addition to the 6,000 young people, the Canadian delegation will include 24 Canadian Bishops. Invited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, five of them will serve as catechists for the young pilgrims; three in French and two in English. The Bishop catechists are: Bishops Paul-André Durocher and Lionel Gendron, and Archbishops Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, J. Michael Miller, and Richard Smith. Each Bishop will present three catechetical sessions, one for each day, based on the theme of WYD 2011 “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”. The theme for each day will be: Firm in the Faith (Wednesday), Established in Jesus Christ (Thursday), and Witnesses to Christ in the World (Friday).
Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening (August 19), as well as the evening prayer vigil on Saturday (August 20), and the closing mass on Sunday (August 21), at the Cuatro Vientos airfield, in Madrid. He will also celebrate a mass for seminarians and meet with young religious Sisters and with more than 1,000 young university professors during his stay in Madrid.
Salt and Light, Canada’s national Catholic television network, available on satellite and cable television throughout the country, as well as on the Internet at www.saltandlighttv.org/ <http://www.saltandlighttv.org/> or www.seletlumieretv.org <http://www.seletlumieretv.org/> , will provide live coverage of World Youth Day’s most important moments and provide a special program schedule on the catechesis sessions, as well as conduct many interviews throughout the week.
Salt and Light has also created a special website (www.wydcentral.org <http://www.wydcentral.org/> ) to keep our favorite memories of WYD 2011. Salt and Light CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., former National Director and CEO of World Youth Day 2002, will be in Madrid with a team of young journalists to cover the event. Fr. Rosica is also serving as coordinator of the Canadian delegation to WYD in Madrid.
There is this energy that is dawning upon me right now – the energy that comes mixed with anticipation, excitement, overwhelming preparation, restlessness, and gratitude. I had the same feeling when I was sixteen, nineteen and twenty-five years old. I know that it is the work of the Holy Spirit and I don’t know what to do with it but trust it. I choose to trust it like every other time before; let it work within me.
So I breathe, and smile; breathe, and smile. And all of a sudden, things start to happen before my eyes. One tangible thing I can tell you about this feeling is the joy that it brings me. My heart feels like a balloon filling with air too quickly – so much that it might burst.
World Youth Days has always been one of those things that I have jumped into with my heart, well before it begins (to be processed in my head). It has never been an identifiable moment where I can say I was on board with the planning process, but more like a perpetual YES, even before the destination was announced. Sooner or later I find myself sitting in the streets of my own city with thousands around me on their knees witnessing the Passion of our Lord; or I find myself halfway around the world shouting praises for God in 4 or 5 different languages. This time I will be leading a group of young people to Madrid, most of them for their first World Youth Days experience. And I need to trust that they are just as much in it as I am.
The Holy Spirit is a game changer. There is no way around it. All the questions, worries, anxieties, fears and misconceptions that we pack with us in our luggage when we leave Toronto is emptied, and with us we bring home a different type of fullness, a completeness that is lighter; filled with memories perspective, friendship, gratitude, love, and a greater awareness of the work of the Spirit.
Stefanie Romano is a Team Leader for the Office of Catholic Youth in Toronto.
Interview with Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, National Director and Chief Executive Officer of World Youth Day 2002, one month after the event.
TORONTO, AUG. 22, 2002 (Zenit.org)- Canada needed World Youth Day and John Paul II “to wake us up, infuse us with joy,” says a key organizer of the event.
Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, national director and chief executive officer of World Youth Day 2002, shared his impressions about the historic event with ZENIT.
Father Rosica: The entire event in Canada spoke of joy, reflected joy, offered joy to so many people. Upon his arrival among us on July 23, Pope John Paul II set the tone for what would take place throughout the week.
He told us that “the young people from all parts of the world … gathering for the World Youth Day bear the marks of a humanity that too often does not know peace, or justice…. Too many lives begin and end without joy, without hope. That is one of the principal reasons for the World Youth Day. Young people are coming together to commit themselves, in the strength of their faith in Jesus Christ, to the great cause of peace and human solidarity.”
Q: What lasting images remain with you from World Youth Day?
Father Rosica: I will never forget the Holy Father’s arrival. It was a splendid, sun-drenched day as the Alitalia plane came to a halt on the runway of Pearson International Airport. I was in a line headed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien of Canada and leaders of government of all levels, followed by officials of the Canadian Church. [Read more...]
By Stefanie Romano
On my last international WYD, I visited a sheep-shearing station in the countryside; it was an odd day-trip but Australia is known for these vast properties of land where they would raise sheep for their wool and meat. We spent the afternoon learning how to crack a whip, throw a boomerang and then, before a traditional Australian meal at suppertime, we went to a sheep-shearing demonstration.
I have always been fascinated by the parable of the lost sheep, telling the story of the shepherd who goes out to find a stray lamb in order to lead it back to the rest of the flock. I know that I often feel like the sheep that takes detours. I am sure we all experience that feeling of separation; it’s a feeling of anxiety and restlessness. Every time I hear the story, I wonder how long the stray sheep is away from the clan. Is it an hour? A day? Or simply a few minutes? While on the farm, I saw a sheep get away from the clan, and it was amusing to say the least… Since the rest of the flock was in the stables for the day, the farmer let the sheepdog chase it back towards the others; it did not want to come home. We must have the two of them circling the property for half an hour before it finally made its way back into the stables
At the sheep-shearing demonstration, I was in awe of how submissive this animal can be. The shearer was squishing its legs together, turning its head to one side against the ground, sticking its bottom up in the air; all in order to sheer all its wool. Not once did the sheep show restraint, nor did it whelp in pain. The little lamb was at the full mercy of the shearer and trusted that he wouldn’t hurt it. When he was finished, the lamb was free to join the rest of the others – (and I’m sure he was a couple degrees cooler, a few pounds lighter and more content than before).
Before we left the farm I was able to hold a lamb in my arms, and I was so excited! It was a very new experience to me and I felt like I had made a connection with God on that day. Just as the parable of the lost sheep tells us that we will be saved by God whenever we stray from our flock, there is this important image of the lamb that we have to keep in mind. The lamb is malleable, trusting, and fully submissive; that is why it is able to be led back to the flock. If we use the parable with any other animal, it would not hold the same meaning. I would not have been led to my first World Youth Days experience if I didn’t share characteristics of the lamb. I know that each time I go on the pilgrimage to WYD, I am putting my own needs aside, trusting the shearer (God), and being led home with a lighter burden and happier heart.
Stefanie Romano is a Team Leader for the Office of Catholic Youth in Toronto.
Biblical Reflection for Palm Sunday C
By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
TORONTO, MARCH 23, 2010 (Zenit.org) On Palm Sunday this year we hear two sections of Luke’s Gospel — the first at the blessing of the palms and the second at the reading of St. Luke’s passion narrative. With the royal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (19:28-21:38), a new section of the Gospel begins — the ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem before his death and resurrection.
In a burst of enthusiasm, the people of Jerusalem waved palm branches and greeted Jesus as he entered the city riding on an ass. The acclamation: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (v. 38) is only found in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is explicitly given the title king when he enters Jerusalem in triumph. Luke has inserted this title into the words of Psalm 118:26 that heralded the arrival of the pilgrims coming to the holy city and to the temple.
Jesus is thereby acclaimed as king and as the one who comes (Malachi 3:1; Luke 7:19). The disciples’ acclamation: “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” echoes the announcement of the angels at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:14). The peace Jesus brings is associated with the salvation to be accomplished in Jerusalem. There is an internal unity between the Infancy and Passion Narratives of Luke’s Gospel.
Luke is dependent upon Mark for the composition of his Passion narrative (22:14-23:56), but he has incorporated much of his own special tradition into the narrative. Among the distinctive sections in Luke’s Passion story of Jesus are: (1) the tradition of the institution of the Eucharist (22:15-20); (2) Jesus’ farewell discourse (22:21-38); (3) the mistreatment and interrogation of Jesus (22:63-71); (4) Jesus before Herod and his second appearance before Pilate (23:6-16); (5) words addressed to the women followers on the way to the crucifixion (23:27-32); (6) words to the penitent thief (23:39-41); (7) the death of Jesus (23:46, 47b-49).
Palm of Triumph
The peaceful figure of Jesus rises above the hostility and anger of the crowds and the legal process. Jesus remains a true model of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. In the midst of his own agony and trial, we realize the depths of Jesus’ passion for unity: He is capable of uniting even Pilate and Herod together in friendship (23:12). From the cross, Luke presents Jesus forgiving his persecutors (23:34) and the dying Jesus allows even a thief to steal paradise! (23:43).
Throughout his account, Luke stresses the innocence of Jesus (23:4, 14-15, 22) who is the victim of the powers of evil (22:3, 31, 53) and who goes to his death in fulfillment of his Father’s will (22:42, 46). Luke emphasizes the mercy, compassion, and healing power of Jesus (22:51; 23:43) who does not go to death lonely and deserted, but is accompanied by others who follow him on the way of the cross (23:26-31, 49).
In Luke’s moving story, the palm of triumph and the cross of the Passion are not a contradiction. Herein lies the heart of the mystery proclaimed during Holy Week. Jesus gave himself up voluntarily to the Passion; he was not crushed by forces greater than himself. He freely faced crucifixion and in death was triumphant.
Along the way of the cross, Luke offers us role models, who teach us to live in our daily lives Jesus’ Passion as a journey toward a resurrection. As the execution detail leads Jesus from the governor’s palace to the rock quarry outside the gates of the city where public executions took place, they impound Simon of Cyrene, a passerby, to carry the cross of Jesus (23:26). Luke’s wording makes it clear that he sees in the figure of Simon an image of discipleship: Simon takes up the cross of Jesus and carries it “behind Jesus.”
The phrase is identical to Jesus’ own teaching on discipleship: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). Those who would live the way of Jesus must be willing to pour out their life on behalf of others. The mere fact of carrying the cross is not what is most important. Many persons in this world suffer dramatically: Every people, every family has on its shoulders sorrows and burdens to bear. That which gives fullness of meaning to the cross is to carry it behind Jesus, not in a journey of anguished solitude, hopeless wandering or rebellion, but rather in a journey sustained and nourished by the presence of the Lord.
In Luke 23:27 we read “large crowds of people followed Jesus including many women who mourned and lamented him.” A sharing, which consists only in compassionate words or even in tears, is not enough. Each of us must be aware of our own responsibility in the drama of suffering, especially in the suffering of the just and the innocent. Jesus’ words in Luke 23:31 invite us to a realistic reading of the history of individuals and of communities. “For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” For example, if the innocent one is struck down in this way, what will happen to those who are responsible for the evil that comes about in the history of individuals and nations?
Jesus did not understand his earthly existence as a search for power, as a race for success or a career, as a desire to dominate others. On the contrary, as we read in today’s second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the community at Philippi, he gave up the privileges of his equality with God, took the form of a servant, became like men and was obedient to the Father’s plan unto death on the cross (Philippians 2:6-11). In commemorating the events of Holy Week, we do much more than just recall Christ’s suffering and glorification. We actually celebrate his life and share in his victory. The saving power of his Death and Resurrection enters our lives. And Jesus becomes light and salvation for each individual and for all of humanity.
This year we also observe the 25th anniversary of the institution of World Youth Day on Palm Sunday. Benedict XVI recently said: “This great event, so ardently desired by the Venerable Pope John Paul II, was a prophetic initiative that has borne abundant fruits, enabling new generations of Christians to come together, to listen to the Word of God, to discover the beauty of the Church and to live experiences of faith that have led many to give themselves totally to Christ.”
World Youth Days, by design, draw in as many participants as possible, and remain a living memorial to the late Pope John Paul II, who understood instinctively why young people would respond to them. In remarks at the concluding Mass thanking Benedict XVI for his participation in Australia’s 2008 World Youth Day, Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell said that World Youth Day acts as an antidote to images of Catholicism as in decline or wracked by controversy. “It shows the Church as it really is, alive with evangelical energy.”
Cardinal Pell concluded his address to the Pope with prophetic and affirming words: “Your Holiness, the World Youth Days were the invention of Pope John Paul the Great. The World Youth Day in Cologne was already announced before your election. You decided to continue the World Youth Days and to hold this one in Sydney. We are profoundly grateful for this decision, indicating that the World Youth Days do not belong to one Pope, or even one generation, but are now an ordinary part of the life of the Church. The John Paul II generation — young and old alike — is proud to be faithful sons and daughters of Pope Benedict.”
Let me conclude by sharing the deeply moving words of Pope John Paul II in his final homily at Canada’s 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto. We need to hear these words, now more than ever.
He said: “Even a tiny flame lifts the heavy lid of night. How much more light will you make, all together, if you bond as one in the communion of the Church! If you love Jesus, love the Church!
“Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members. The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame. But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good!
“There are many priests, seminarians and consecrated persons here today; be close to them and support them! And if, in the depths of your hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the Cross!
“At difficult moments in the Church’s life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit.”
May the Venerable Pope John Paul II continue to watch over us and bless us from the window of the Father’s house.
[The readings for Palm Sunday are Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; and Luke 22:14-23:56 or 23:1-49]
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Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada, is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview with Robert Légère, Who Depicted Jesus in the Stations
TORONTO, DEC. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org) Robert Légère is best known for his depiction of Jesus during the Way of the Cross last summer at World Youth Day.
Légère, 25, was born in St. Louis de Kent, New Brunswick. He graduated from the University of Moncton with a degree in finance, and attended the Information Technology Institute in Moncton. After graduating, he moved to Toronto where he has spent the past two years working for Multiple Retirement Services. He has no theatrical training.
Robert was first introduced to World Youth Day by his girlfriend who first attended WYD in her home country of the Philippines, then in Rome two years ago. He says: “I never dreamed I would be playing Jesus in an event like this.”
ZENIT: Christmas is the coming of Christ among us. The Way of the Cross in Toronto was, in many ways, a coming of Christ among the people on the principal streets of a modern city. What did the Way of the Cross mean for the people of Toronto, and what did it mean for you?
Légère: It’s hard to say what the Way of the Cross really meant for the people of Toronto in general, but I do know that it was a very powerful experience for the entire city. Hundreds of thousands of people really entered into the pain and suffering of Jesus’ final hours on earth. Some people have stopped me and told me that they where crying as they watched me, as Jesus, dying on the cross.
The entire city came to a standstill that Friday evening, July 26, 2002. I was very moved at seeing thousands of people on their knees as we moved up University Avenue, in the middle of downtown Toronto. People were looking at me and praying. It was a very strange sensation.
I witnessed so much faith and piety that evening. I never thought that something like this would happen in Toronto or, for that matter, in Canada. Having the Way of the Cross re-enacted right in the heart of downtown Toronto was a profound symbol and public statement.
[WYD 2002 coordinator] Father Thomas Rosica and Father Robert Gendreau, the coordinator of the Stations of the Cross, had told us very often that, unless a country and a people like Canada reclaim their deeply Christian origins, we would remain unfaithful to our identity. At first, I didn’t know what they meant. Now, I know exactly what they meant.
For me, the Stations of the Cross was a unique experience. I know I was there, and have the tape to prove it. But it was just my body that was there. My mind wasn’t really there. It was as if something took my body and made me go through the movements and actions. Someone else was leading me that night.
I really don’t remember what happened after the second station. Someone else led me… …Read more