By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
A special diocesan event was held in Saskatoon on the Solemnity of Christ the King Nov. 21, marking World Youth Day at the local level with Bishop Mark Hagemoen presiding at Sunday evening Mass, followed by testimonies and a time of Eucharistic Adoration at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
World Youth Day is usually observed annually in local dioceses on Palm Sunday, with a large international celebration held every two to three years. This year, Pope Francis asked that the local youth celebrations in dioceses around the world be held in November. The next International World Youth Day will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2023.
The Saskatoon event included a welcome from Sr. Marta Piano of the Verbum Dei Missionary Community, who has been working on Youth and Young Adult ministry in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, along with John Hickey, Evangelization and Mission Leader for the diocese of Saskatoon. Closing words of thanks were delivered by Hickey at the conclusion of the Saskatoon event.
“It is really a gift to be hear and to unite ourselves with the whole Church around the world in this special feast,” said Sr. Marta Piano, noting the theme chosen for this year’s World Youth Day on Nov. 21: “Arise. – I appoint you as witnesses of what you have seen.”
Because we have experienced God’s love in our lives, we can stand up and witness to his love for each one of us, she said. “We need to acknowledge in our lives at this present moment that Christ is our king, and we want to manifest the Kingdom of God amongst us.”
Music ministry during the event was provided by the Catholic Christian Outreach CCO worship team, including Ally Bitz, John Zimmer, and Anne Smith.
In his homily, Bishop Mark Hagemoen reflected on the impact of World Youth Days that he has attended. As a newly-ordained priest, he took a group of young people from the Archdiocese of Vancouver to the first World Youth Day on the North American continent at Denver, Colorado, USA in 1993. “It was a great expression of community, of faith, of really feeling the life of Jesus,” he said.
“World Youth Day was a vision of Pope John Paul II and then Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis — it is very important to our recent popes and to our Church throughout the world,” said Hagemoen, encouraging young people to go forth as disciples and witness to Jesus Christ as true King and Saviour.
Following Mass, three young adults spoke about the impact of World Youth Day in their own lives, including Colm Leyne, Youth Minister at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon, who has attended a total of five international World Youth Days, both as a participant and as a youth leader;
Anna Marko of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, who attended the most recent International World Youth Day held in Panama in 2019; and A.J. Vicente, who works with Catholic Christian Outreach, and who unexpectedly had the opportunity to attend World Youth Day in Poland in 2016.
Jerome Montpetit, who this year began a path of
vocation discernment through the newly-formed Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Formation Program, also provided his testimony.
A time of prayer and adoration concluded the evening.