Though it’s already been a few weeks since the Eucharistic Congress, I couldn’t very well move on to thinking about World Youth Day without sharing my incredible and unique experience of the week in Québec.
First, I should mention that I truly enjoyed the privilege of being part of the Salt + Light team in charge of covering the week's events live. Since you got a taste of what that was like in previous posts (thanks to my quick and hard working colleagues) I’ll move on to explaining my other, much less visible role at the Congress. I had the honour of being one of nine members of the Theological Commission chosen to create a report based on the results of the daily workshops that took place every afternoon from Tuesday to Friday. These workshops were launched with the goal of allowing a deeper, more fuller analysis of the morning’s catechetical themes. The Commission was under the leadership of Bishop Terrence Prendergast (Ottawa) and its membership included Sister Lorraine Caza, c.n.d., (secretary) Bishop Albert Legatt (Saskatoon), Bishop Paul-André Durocher (Alexandria-Cornwall), Bishop David Motiuk (Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton), Fr. Ferdinand Pratzner (secretary of the Pontifical Committee for Eucharistic Congresses), Sister Carmelle Bisson, AMJ, Sabrina Di Matteo (Editor in chief, Haute Fidélité/Journalist for the Archdiocese of Montreal), and myself. Now you can begin to understand why it was truly an honour for me to work with this incredible group of people. When the members all met for dinner on Monday night, I was looking around the table when a certain tune came to mind: "One of these people is not like the other…one of these people do not belong…" Nonetheless, a youthful perspective is what they wanted and I was determined to do my very best. I couldn’t let them down.
We came together every afternoon to analyze the workshop discussions of 400 delegates chosen by their diocese to take part in the daily roundtable discussions pertaining to the morning’s sessions. These pilgrims were from all continents and of all ages (lay people, priests, and religious). Divided in groups of ten (according to language of preference) the delegates discussed Eucharistic practices under the guidance of a set of questions influenced by the catecheses and witnesses of the previous day. The goal of these workshops was to have the delegates analyze the pastoral practices of their Church communities in light of the reflections offered at the Congress and have them identify the obstacles and needs of their parish communities in relation to the Eucharist. Discussion notes were summarized every night by a very dedicated group of volunteers and the Commission would then summarize these notes (even more) putting them in report form and including with them a set of pastoral recommendations centered around the relationship between the Paschal mystery, the Sunday Celebration of the Eucharist and it’s connectedness with ethical and social action.
What is particularly exciting about the work of the Commission is that it’s the first time in the history of International Eucharistic Congresses that such a report has resulted from the workshops and round table sessions. This report will be published in the Acts of the Congress, and will be presented to Pope Benedict XVI himself. Pretty cool, eh? I can’t even begin to reiterate everything I’ve learnt during the week. Everything from: efficiency to methodology of work, to theology to time management to proposals… so I’ll just say that it was an incredible experience. One that has no doubt served to shape my personal and spiritual formation in such a way as to allow me to better serve the Church I love. I couldn’t be more grateful.