The Vancouver Olympic Games begin in five days time. The involvement of Christian Churches in welcoming athletes and visitors for the sporting events is manifest in a cooperative venture called MORE THAN GOLD. Linked to this are strong statements, such as by the Canadian Bishops, on human trafficking.
More Than Gold is the coalition of Christian churches hoping to present a Christian witness at the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. MTG is rejoicing over the “tremendous” volunteer response to its programs, according to a recent report in the B.C. Catholic.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, an early supporter, has encouraged Catholics to join in solidarity with other Christians to offer “radical hospitality” to visitors to ensure that the face of Christ is clearly visible during the Games. Some months ago he appointed Barbara Dowding, vice chancellor of the archdiocese, to the MTG board.
More Than Gold, said Reed, is promoting hospitality and access to creative arts programs and to prayer events in 25 public spaces throughout Metro Vancouver.
“With the Games almost here, we are more than encouraged that 90 per cent of our volunteer base needs have been filled. Of the 65,000 volunteer hours needed, 60,000 hours have already been pledged, and volunteer training sessions have been under way throughout January at churches in several locations.”
The response to a call for prayer partners to pray for the safety of the Games and for the success of a wide variety of social initiatives sponsored by More Than Gold, including the outreach to the city’s poor and homeless and to victims of human trafficking, has “exploded,” Reed said.
“Many churches have designated (today) February 7th Olympic prayer kickoff Sunday, for pastors and their congregations to pause and pray for the opportunity to share Christ with athletes and visitors. Locations for prayer will be offered around the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we expect people will flock to them.
“There has been a wonderful diversity of grassroots prayer outreaches gaining momentum everywhere. Youth With a Mission (YWAM), an international youth ministry which promotes evangelization and charity, is setting up missionary street zones to invite passers-by to stop and pray.”
Everyone, said Reed, is invited to the International Prayer Centre on Keats Island, where a team of seasoned prayer intercessors from around the world will oversee a variety of opportunities for focussed prayer each day from Feb. 12-28.
More Than Gold, said Reed, committed early on to sponsoring workshops and other events to prevent trafficking in men, women, and children during the Olympics. Through a partnership with Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity (REED), a Christian organization founded to support those at risk for sexual exploitation, many Canadians have been educated on the issue.
“We are hoping that the most popular T-shirts at the Games will be emblazoned with the message “Buying Sex is Not a Sport,” said Reed.
“We have seen a momentum building against trafficking on both the local and national level, and our forums which have taken place every week have raised awareness and engaged many people. I am pleased to say that the Catholic Women’s League and many Catholic religious sisters have taken on leadership roles.”
Information on all events and the MTG online store, which has clothing, equipment, and prayer books, is available at the MTG website, www.morethangold.ca.
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There was great weather yesterday morning and the crowds were numerous all day on the Rideau Canal, from the Rideau Street entrance all the way to Dows Lake and the extension to the shadow of Carleton University.
A couple of photos to catch the flavour:
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CC's Mark a Quarter Century
On Friday evening, welcomed by Moderator Father Scott McCaig, I joined several hundred of the faithful who came together at Tudor Hall for a weekend of festivities to begin observance of the Silver Jubilee of the foundation by Father Bob Bedard, a priest of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, and several young men of what would become known as the Companions of the Cross.
Many of those in attendance were "associates", men and women who feel drawn to the charism of this new religious community whose goal is to participate in the New Evangelization proclaimed by Pope John Paul II as the outgrowth of the Church's renewal by the Second Vatican Council. Yesterday there was a full day of reflection and animation that culminated in a Youth Fest.
Some photos taken at Friday evening's liturgy:
Preparing the incense within the sacred liturgy
Deacon David Bergeron, CC who will be ordained a priest on May 29 in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica
The priests and seminarians of the Companions of the Cross and the women aspirants who share a kindred spiritual vision, the Servants of the Cross