Access52’s Michael Chiasson leads “Waiting & Watching” at St. Michael Catholic Community Parish in Calgary Dec. 11. Photo by Ryan Factura

Making Advent available in challenging times

  • December 16, 2020

With the second wave of COVID-19 dismantling the equilibrium between joy and gloominess, a night of music, prayer and testimony was organized to help Calgary youth take part in the Advent experience.

St. Michael Catholic Community Parish of Calgary and the Access52 media company collaborated on the event for Grade 7-12 students Dec. 11 entitled “Waiting & Watching: An Advent experience for youth.”

The evening was hosted by Access52 co-founder and motivational speaker Michael Chiasson. It also livestreamed on Facebook.

Access52 is an organization with a mission of inspiring students to live for God 52 weeks a year. 

“Our reason for organizing this Advent youth experience was to simply be available, especially during this challenging time,” said Chiasson in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “As we have all felt the effects of what this year has brought to us, what we are preparing to celebrate gives us all — if we choose — clarity in the midst of uncertainty.

“This event for youth had a clear goal to inspire all of us to wait and watch in expectation as we prepare our hearts in this Advent season.”

Chiasson and his team executed this event in the nick of time, as additional COVID-19 restrictions, essentially barring all public social activity, were activated just two days later.

The low-key, intimate gathering, that clocked in at just over an hour, began with Chiasson on the St. Michael Church altar, which was shimmered in gentle purple light. Light piano music was played in the background as Chiasson addressed the dozen youth in the crowd.

Chiasson, who has spoken at over 500 events around the world, ceded the floor in the opening minutes to a pre-recorded message from Joe Melendrez, a prominent American Catholic rap artist, international speaker and contributor to Konnect Radio, a mixed-format Christian radio station broadcasting from the United Kingdom.

Melendrez explained during his sermon that young people can capture the spirit of Advent by not self-examining and obsessing over our own imperfections, but instead look at yourself through Heaven’s eyes.

“God sees the potential,” said Melendrez. “He sees the dreams and the plans and the amazing opportunities. He sees the challenges we are going to face, but He also sees how we will go through those challenges. He says, ‘that is a beautiful creation.’ ”

Chiasson devoted the core of his talk towards dissecting the question, “what are we waiting for?” He mentioned that the dark setting of the church for this event was intentional because each human begins his or her journey in the darkness for the life to come. He says the darkness, which represents waiting, we experience now is uncomfortable but purposeful.

“Be willing to walk into that moment of waiting with an open heart and a willingness to say, ‘this is a moment where I am about to see or discover something.’ As we wait, our strength can rise.”

Chiasson said that while “waiting builds strength and self-control,” watching could “awaken the wonder in our lives.” He said older generations are in need of younger generations’ “joy, enthusiasm, smile and energy.”

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