CNS photo/Paulo Whitaker, Reuters

World Youth Day at Home provides a taste of Rio


KINGSTON, Ont. - About 100 young people participated in World Youth Day (WYD) at Home in Kingston, one of several such events in Canada for those unable to attend the real thing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Kingston event was imagined and organized by Nadia Gundert, 29, youth ministry co-ordinator for the Kingston archdiocese. A veteran of six World Youth Days starting with Rome WYD in 2000, Gundert said she pulled ideas from each one to give participants a taste of the experience.

She also communicated with organizers of events in Edmonton and one in Britain. The Montreal archdiocese also held a WYD at Home, as did the Valleyfield diocese in Rigaud, Que.

The day-long event featured skits, multicultural displays such as Portuguese and Irish folk dancing, local Christian musical talent and food from places like Trinidad and Tobago for lunch and a Brazilian feast for dinner.

WYD at Home included Taizé style worship, adoration, catechesis by Kingston Archbishop Brendan O’Brien and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast and, of course, Mass in the cathedral.

Pilgrims from Kingston were sending pictures and texts to the event from Rio that were displayed on Saturday evening via a slideshow.

The theme of the day and the catechesis was the same as that of World Youth Day in Rio: “Go and make disciples of all the nations.”

Prendergast said the day captured the essence of what WYD’s offer, bringing young people from across the diocese and from beyond together. The day also brought generations together, as elderly priests and religious sisters shared their faith and experiences, one a sister who had recently

returned from Japan talking about missionary work, he said. He noted the pairing of old and young mirrored the Holy Father’s remarks that day in Rio about how the elderly and the young are being marginalized. Yet the elderly have so much to share in their experience of faith, he said.

At an event like this the young people “get supported and encouraged, they see they are not alone,” he said, noting how the different ages, different nations make the Church “a beautiful mosaic.”

Jenna Forestell, 17, from Stirling, Ont., said she was not able to get to Rio, so WYD at Home “offered a great opportunity to make up for that.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said her sister Nicole, 14. “It’s great to be with other Catholic youth and share our faith.”

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Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Waters Gyapong has been a journalist and novelist for more than 20 years. She has worked in print, radio and television, including 12 years as a producer for CBC TV's news and current affairs programming. She currently covers religion and politics primarily for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers.