Last night around 10 o'clock, Jerome Frenette who is a factotum for the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec and an acquaintance from the time I held the dossier of Pontifical Commissioner for the Fils de Marie, met me at Quenec's newly-renovated Jean Lesage International Airport and whisked me as the "best chauffeur in town" (his description) to the Christian Rock Concert held in front of Eglise Saint-Roch in one of the inner city neighbourhoods. The Famille Marie-Jeunesse were on stage and people in the crowd were struggling to keep warm (with tuques and other winter gear). It was easy to notice that something exciting was happening in the Quebec Church!
This morning, Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall (and one of the speakers in this year's Montee Jeunesse/Youth Summit drove out to the Sainte-Foy district next to Laval University, where the closing events were to take place in the Church St. Thomas d'Aquin (where Emmanuel Community priest Federic Verscheure has been pastor for this past year).
There's no way to adequately describe the energy present among the youth and others who had gathered. Our Ottawa Team was proudly sporting their loud yellow t-shirts with Montee Jeunesse 2010 Ottawa logo and the invitation: Soyez-la! Be There! Abbe Daniel Berniquez and our two youth directors Manon Chevalier and Ted Hurley and some twenty or so others who had come for the weekend were pumped and ready to receive the Ark of the New Covenant. They would have to wait until the closing moments however to lay their hands on the treasured symbol of Eucharistic devotion and Marian piety (proposed and invented by the youth themselves).
About 9:15, we had morning prayer (with a three minute homily by Abbe Federic: he warned of the risk of a Descente Jeunesse--a Youth Letdown when folks got home and had to put into practice what they had imbibed over the weekend with their peers); then a retrospective video of what took place over the weekend (that's when I began to panic about the challenges that would face us in Ottawa in living up to the well-planned and executed program); a testimony and presentation to Cardinal Ouellet for his trust in youth and testimonies by those who over a period of several years' involvement in MJ/YS were challenged in their faith); and the closing Mass (in which His Eminence made a powerful link between the Life the Risen Jesus offers us and the call from the March for Life last week on Parliament Hill to stand up and be Pro-Life from the moment of human conception until one's last breath).
Just before the Final Blessing, Cardinal Ouellet announced what everyone already knew that Ottawa would host the MJ/YS in 2010 and invited the Quebec Team to transfer the Ark to the Ottawa delegation. The place erupted in applause at the continuance of the dream that youth have a central place at the heart of the Church and this great Quebec adventure can continue to transform the Church in Canada.
I thanked everyone and picked up on the Cardinal's reminder that this was the birthday of the late Pope John Paul II (born May 18, 1920) whose first words were "Don't be afraid!" Christ is there beside us to guide us in all that lies ahead of us, including in Montee Jeunesse 2010 Youth Summit! Whatever fears and challenges we face He is with us at our side. In that case, we can't expect anything but a shower of blessings and graces!