`Prayerful pilgrims' shared the Toronto experience


August 15, 2002|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A GROUP from St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarksville attended World Youth Day in Toronto last month. The three adults and eight teens were part of a larger group that traveled with 140 people from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

"Our main focus was to come together as a faithful community," said St. Louis youth minister Pat Sprankle. "We're prayerful pilgrims."

The students and their chaperons arrived July 22 for the weeklong celebration of World Youth Day. Opening ceremonies and a vigil Mass were held the next day at Exhibition Place, a 192-acre park on the shores of Lake Ontario.

During the opening ceremonies, the Clarksville group gathered with many other pilgrims. "For the opening Mass, there was a cool half a million people," Sprankle said.

"All you could hear was people cheering," said Elizabeth Golden, 17, of Columbia. "Even the littlest countries you don't even think about were there. There were tons of flags."

The opening included an afternoon Mass of welcome celebrated by Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto. Afterward, the group toured the park and heard Christian bands.

The youths began each morning with catecheses - a time of prayer, discussion and reflection, followed by Mass. They attended different churches and heard bishops from around the world speak on varying topics. "We were able to see how our faith is all around the world," said Dana Perzynski, 17, of Clarksville.

Group members stayed at a Seneca College dorm during their stay. Sprankle said the weather was hot and they did a lot of walking during the weeklong event.

On July 27, they participated in a pilgrimage to Downsview Lands. They walked three miles to join other Catholics in prayer, music and testimonies of their faith. "We found our territory amidst many other countries," Sprankle said. "We met people from other countries and tried to converse with them."

Sprankle says from 800,000 to 1 million people hiked there as part of the pilgrimage.

"It is very universal," Dana said. "Though we may not all speak the same language, we all believe the same thing."

Pope John Paul II arrived in a helicopter in the evening to deliver a message of hope for the future. Dana said the pope made personal connections with youths at the event. "Even though he is very old and frail, he wasn't afraid to show that to us," she said. "He really cares about the youth of the Catholic Church."

After the pope left, the celebration continued. "Pilgrims continued to sing and dance throughout the night," Sprankle said. That night, the large group slept outside at Downsview Lands. The weather held out until 6 a.m., when it started to rain. "We were soaked," Dana said.

The pope returned in his helicopter at 9:30 a.m. to celebrated a 2 1/2 -hour Mass - which was open to the public.

Elizabeth said she not only met people, but she also became more familiar with her fellow parishioners. "I got to know the people at St. Louis better," she said. "It was more than I expected it to be."

Dana also felt privileged to have attended World Youth Day.

"I got to see the pope and share my faith with tons of other people my age," Dana said. "The pope told us we're the hope for the future."

Other youths on the trip were Theresa Tenaglia, Matthew Murphy, Stephanie Reed, Jennifer Ernst, Becky Frey and Justin Martello. Adults Lisa Sullivan and Kelly Ernst chaperoned along with Sprankle.

Starry night

Bill Brown of the Howard Astronomical League (HAL) of Central Maryland was host of a star-studded Star Party on Saturday night at Carr's Mill Park in Glenwood.

As many as 19 telescopes were set up and used by about 50 people.

Participants observed the International Space Station, the Comet Koenig and an Iridium flare, along with a few planets and satellites, the Perseids meteor shower and billions of stars.

According to ZoAnn Lapinsky, HAL is host of "monthly meetings, provides astronomical resources for groups and educational organizations, holds member and public star parties, and provides a social setting for local amateur astronomers." The group has two viewing sites in Howard County - Carr's Mill and Alpha Ridge Park, near Marriottsville.

The next HAL meeting will be held tonight at the Howard County Recreation and Parks building at 7120 Oakland Mill Road, Columbia. Tod Strohmayer of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt will talk about black holes. On Saturday, a public Star Party will be held at Alpha Ridge with host Marc Feurberg.

Information: http://howardastro.org.

Cadet honored

Cadet 2nd Lt. Joanna Barth of Clarksville recently completed requirements for advancement to cadet officer in the Civil Air Patrol and earned the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award. Air Force Maj. Gordon Hengst presented Barth, of the Fort McHenry Composite Squadron, Maryland Wing, the award at a ceremony during the squadron's picnic July 3. Barth is the first cadet member of the squadron to complete all the achievements to earn the Mitchell Award.

Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the Air Force. Its cadet program provides learning and leadership opportunities to Americans ages 12 to 20. Cadets participate in a program of aerospace education, leadership, physical fitness, and moral and ethical values. Cadets who receive the Mitchell Award are eligible for advanced placement in the grade of E-3 (Airman First Class) should they choose to enlist in the Air Force.

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