Volunteers share their experience

At the Mass at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, the rite of peace was a beautiful moment for me. I sent all my prayers to indigenous people affected by those events, and prayed God to grant them peace: no better place or moment to do that than Mass! – Gracia

Gracia with 2 friends dressed in blue in front of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica
Gracia with 2 friends
Gracia sitting in a golf cart in front of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica

Variety of attendees

In the stadium at Edmonton, says Agnes Iniubong, I noticed people of different backgrounds holding different flags. Many Indigenous people were at the Mass. It struck me that the Catholic faith has many followers from all around the world. The Holy Father unites thousands regardless of their background. The Catholic faith is universal and touches every part of the Earth. 

Stage at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton before mass. People sitting scattered in the seats
Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton before mass

Humility and sincerity

This was a great example of humility, adds Gracia. In a world where people only care about themselves, how they look, or may appear, having the Holy Father coming to Canada and apologizing shows us true humility. St. Josemaria says something similar in The Forge 189: “Humility teaches each soul not to lose heart in the face of its own blunders. True humility leads us to ask for forgiveness.”

This is a great lesson learned and I will forever cherish the memory. 

Stage full of photographers taking pictures of Pope Francis in the papamobile.
Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton

It struck me how sincere the Pope is about his apology, says Tina, and how much he cares about the people. I could hear the sincerity in his voice. His speech was very inspiring and heartwarming.

Listening carefully to our elders and grandparents

In Edmonton, the Holy Mass was on the feast day of St. Anne and St. Joachim, grandparents of Jesus. Agnes Iniubong recalls: The Pope’s homily was in dedication to the Elders of our community and how we as a society should honour them. Elders play a major role in the Indigenous community. This aspect of the homily was important because the papal Mass was dedicated to reconciliation and accountability for residential schools.

The homily, Malana remarks, tied together the many reasons people attended the papal Mass by reflecting on the past and inspiring hope for the future. We were reminded that it is important to take care of our grandparents and to take the time to listen to their wisdom and stories, not only to preserve history but to help us have courage in the challenges of life and learn how to build a better future which doesn’t marginalize any of God’s children.

Malana (red hair) and Agnes Iniubong with friends sitting at the back of a bus
Malana (pink hair), Agnes Iniubong with friends

When I heard the homily, Agnes Iniubong observes, I realized the importance of giving gratitude to the people that came before us and listening to them. I understood that we as a Catholic community should embrace the stories of our ancestors and reflect on their life lessons. The words of the homily taught me to listen to the ideas of the most vulnerable and wise in our community. The Pope’s visit inspired me to live a life of compassion and gratitude.

Teamwork, Communication, and Words make a difference!

Tina is amazed: The volunteers all relied on one another. It was quite inspiring to see volunteers being so dedicated to their tasks and going out of their way to help the others. We really could not have achieved what we achieved without teamwork and constant communication. For example, the estimate of making 100 sandwiches in two hours changed for making 150 in under 1.5 hours! 

Group of girls standing up at the table making sandwiches
150 sandwiches in 1.5 hour !

I also learned the power that words can have. Sometimes a word of encouragement when another volunteer is feeling down or simply asking how someone is doing can make a huge difference in their day. When the Pope's car was driving past the group of volunteers, we were all screaming how we love him and how we were so happy to see him. It was so heartwarming to see the smile on his face as he was waving at us and it really showed me how powerful words can be.

In conclusion…

It was inspiring to see Catholics of all ages, especially so many young people, come to Edmonton to partake in Pope Francis’ visit and live out their faith. - Malana

I will forever cherish the memory of this great lesson of humility of Pope Francis. - Gracia

I was really glad to see how many Indigenous people were eager to meet him and hear what he has to say, not just open to meeting him. -Tina 

Aubrey and Tina showing their participant badges
Aubrey and Tina

It was uplifting to look around at the thousands of the people attending the Mass in-person and think of the many more attending online who came together in community to participate in the present, learn from the past, and work together for a brighter future. -Tina

Catholics should never take blessings like this holy visit for granted. – Agnes Iniubong

Volunteers dressed with blue jackets on the airport ground in Iqaluit
Volunteers in Iqaluit