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Thursday, September 01, 2005

It is as it was

Well, it is finally Friday of World Youth Day and the big event sponsored by Holy Cross Family Ministries and Family Theater Productions of Hollywood is slated for this day. The day began for us with a Mass in English at Saint Mary's in Dusseldorf for Korean Americans from New York and New Jersey.

We also attended a catechesis in German which received enthusiastic applause from the young people in the church. God and the Germans only know what was said. We in our party did not understand a word the bishop said.

We have brought Jim Caviezel to World Youth Day with us. He played Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ." His lovely wife Kerri was with us too. We also invited and brought along Clarence Gilyard , the co-star of "walker Texas Ranger" and his wife Elena and three children Paul, Rachel and Max. They were a blessing to all of us throughout the trip.

This event has been a year in the planning. Father John Phalen, CSC, president of Holy Coss Family Ministries of Massachusetts, Beth Mahoney, director of mission and I have been meeting with others for months to bring this event to life.

The event was originally scheduled for Bonn with a maximum of 3500 people attending. Several months ago the Planning committee for World Youth Day informed us that the new soccer stadium in Dusseldorf would be available and could accommodate a much larger crowd. Obviously, we leaped on this opportunity. The only problem, when we looked at the one inch thick program listings for all the events of World Youth Day on our arrival we discovered that the event was still listed in the booklet for Bonn. A MAJOR PROBLEM! All week we spent hours each handing out postcards with the right location and time for the event. Then, on the morning of the event, a major newspaper in Cologne had a long story about Jim Caviezel and the Passion and this story said the event would take place in Bonn.

These miscues kept the numbers down for our event and meant that thousands of young peolpe ended up in Bonn very frustrated that the Jim Caviezel and the Passion were not there. As it turned out, some of them were able to make it to Dusseldorf before the program ended.

The actual program went very well. Father John shared some of the history and mission of Holy Cross Family Ministries and Family Theater and then introduced Kerri. {The web site for Holy Cross Family Ministries is HCFM.org, For Family Theater it is Familytheater.org.} She spoke effectively about her own commitment to protecting and saving the lives of the innocent children in the womb. She then introduced Jim who gave a stirring testimony about his own faith and how it informs his decisions. He also reviewed the making of the Passion of the Christ and all the hurdles he ahd to overcome to get this produced, including: his being cast as Christ and what that might do to his acting career, being struck bey lightning and surviving, dislocating a shoulder, losing some flesh and blood during the scourging, suffering from exposure
and pneumonia.

His friend Steve McEveety, the producer of the Passion, was told by the secretary to Pope John Paul II that after the pope saw the film the only thing he said was, "It is as it was." While there is some controversy over whether JPII actually said this, it seems from credible sources that he did.

After Jim's speech, which was very well received, we watched the entire film "The Passion of the Christ" on two large screens in the stadium. Then we prayed the Rosary with Father John leading a decade, followed by Kerri, myself, Clarence and Jim all praying a decade. Finally, Jim came up once more to speak for the benefit of those intrepid young people who made it all the way from Bonn to Dusseldorf in time for the rosary.

This was a very long day and everyone was ready for a good meal which we shared at an Italian Restuarant nearby. The owner, Franco, and his wife were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. Their son Dino works with them in this restaurant. It was family style and since we had five priests at the table and two other families we all decided to bless Franco and his wife on their anniversary. No one got to bed before midnight this night.

After brief prayers, it was good night and thanks be to God for a wonderful day.

Peace,

FR. Willy

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