On Saturday we held a 10th anniversary celebration for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto at Good Shepherd Church in Surrey. The event was highlighted by Mass celebrated by Archbishop Michael, a barbecue and social, and informal program featuring music, videos, prayer and testimonies. It was a reunion of sorts, as I got to reconnect with old friends – some I hadn’t seen since 2002. It was great to hear numerous stories of how WYD 2002 (and the Days in the Diocese preceding it) had changed so many lives and how the event served as a catalyst for the growth of youth and young adult ministry in our archdiocese. Thus, WYD 2002 will always hold a special place in my heart, as I obtained my full-time job with the Archdiocese of Vancouver immediately after returning home from Toronto. That means it will be my 10 year anniversary as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry this December.
Tonight I will be going to watch our Vancouver Whitecaps host the LA Galaxy at BC Place in some MLS (Major League Soccer) action. There has been a considerable buzz around the city for the last couple of days because of one player: David Beckham.
One may argue that Beckham’s best soccer days are behind him (being left off the British Olympic Soccer Team is a clear indication) but his appeal is undeniable: along with Tiger Woods he is arguably the world’s most renown athlete. And despite the Galaxy also having all-stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane on its roster, the Galaxy goes as Beckham goes.
So it’s not surprising that almost all of the media focus has been on Beckham – it’s even triggered a debate as to whether or not they should open up more seats for the game that’s officially sold out. It got me thinking about what it would be like to be one of the other Galaxy players; to have the media circus follow the team wherever you went. Would I enjoy it? Would I be resentful or jealous? Would I accept it as part of the job?
At my recent stay with my family at the Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark in Grand Mound, WA, I was quite fascinated by the lifeguards. They were extremely disciplined in their approach, almost robotic. They would scan the giant wave pool width-wise then length-wise, shooting their eyes across the pool and then down alongside the near wall. Often, they would use their hand to point at what they were looking at and their necks were always moving from side to side.
Admittedly, I was slightly amused at the first lifeguard I observed. Her movement seemed unnatural and forced. In chatting with a few of the lifeguards throughout my three days there (and watching the Great Wolf Lodge episode of Undercover Boss…haha) I gained a greater appreciation for their disciplined routine and of course, their important role overall.
Much like lifeguards, we youth ministers are in the business of saving lives as well. While we may not have to jump into a pool or ocean (although it’s very possible), we’ll certainly be called on to help a young person who is drowning spiritually.
This past Sunday, our assistant pastor said goodbye to our parish after three years of faithful service to our parish community. As Father Swann Kim reflected on his time at St. Paul’s at the end of Mass (one year as a deacon and two years as a priest), he choked up in a touching and genuine display of emotion. On cue, many in the congregation (including this writer) had to wipe away tears as we listened to Fr. Swann speak about how we had all become his family and that he was sad to move on.
Fr. Swann won’t be too far as he takes up residence at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam. As with many of the priests who have lived with and learned from Monsignor Luterbach, Fr. Swann will likely become a pastor somewhere in the not-so-distant future. Life at St. Paul Parish will go on, in large part to the strong leadership of Msgr. Luterbach and countless others in the parish community. As well, we are all excited as to what our new assistant pastor Father Rodney Nootebos will bring to our parish.