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.
I wasn’t able to attend the 20 year reunion of my high school, Richmond Senior Secondary, also Saturday night. It was tough not to be there as I was looking forward to catching up with many people in person rather than on Facebook. Not to mention that it was held a fancy Japanese restaurant downtown Vancouver. Alas, I’ve already seen some of the pictures from the evening and everyone looks great: less some hair up top and a bit of extra poundage down below. I would have fit right in!
Finally, today was our long-awaited Parish Picnic at St. Paul in Richmond. Months of planning culminated in an amazing day under the hot sun with over 1,000 attendees and 100 plus volunteers. There was a little something for everyone: good food, talent show, field games, pie-eating contest, cotton candy, inflatables, a basketball tourney, and my personal favourite the dunk tank. It was a beautiful sight to see so many people involved, with the majority of the volunteers being youth, young adults, and young at heart. Under some very strong and faithful leadership, the event was extremely successful and surely achieved its primary goal of building community and making people proud to be part of the growing parish.
I dare say that it’s more than a parish community; rather it’s a parish family. And at the head of our parish family is our pastor Monsignor Luterbach. Although we weren’t able to convince him to take a turn in the dunk tank, he was 100% behind the entire event. As he made his way throughout the parish grounds and observed the parish family in action, he truly was a proud Father. His smile went from ear to ear and he even chucked a couple buckets of ice into the dunk tank immediately prior to my shift. Thanks Father Luterbach…I love you too.
Sure…with any family, there’s bound to be disagreements. Family members (and ministries) don’t always agree. We sometimes stereotype based on age, background or skill set. We fight for space in the parish centre or in the weekly bulletin. And we may be resistant to change.
But this parish picnic in particular has me so hopeful for the future of our parish. We welcomed visitors to our home as we showed off our best qualities. We are hospitable. We are compassionate. We are talented. And we are willing to serve.
People are already taking about next year and for good reason. I can’t wait to see what future parish picnics will bring as we continue to attract new blood, new volunteers, and new members to our parish family.
I just hope I don’t lose my wedding ring in the dunk tank again.