Preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000: Jubilee calls for forgiveness, hope, joy & justice

Tuesday, April 21 1998

(Ottawa – CCCB) With only 619 days to go to the year 2000, Canada’s national Catholic organizations have no intention of letting the Jubilee pass by unnoticed. Representatives of 14 national Catholic associations met in a forum here April 17-18 organized by the Commission for Relations with Associations of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Laity, a commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Including lay and religious men and women as well as members of secular institutes and clergy, the associations want the Jubilee to mark a “fresh start” in Church life and in biblical tradition foster a change of heart, forgiveness of debts, pardon and reconciliation. Recalling the epistle of Saint James (2.17), that faith without good works is dead, forum participants also expressed their hope the Jubilee be an occasion to stop and reflect, as well as to become actively and resolutely involved for God and one another.

Invited to outline the main orientations their movements are planning for the year 2000, participants spoke along similar lines, even when their organizations were involved in completely different areas of activity. Their Jubilee plans stressed the conversion, justice and reconciliation that have historically always been part of Jubilee celebrations. One association dedicated to international solidarity, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, said it is giving special attention to forgiving the debts of the world’s poorest countries. Joining others at the forum also echoing the preferential option for the poor, Holy Cross Sister Mary Jean Goulet from Ottawa, representing the Canadian Religious Conference, said “it is not a global economy that is summoning us but rather global solidarity.”

Emphasis on joy

Bishop Jean-Guy Hamelin of Rouyn-Noranda, a member of the episcopal commission, stressed the Jubilee notion of joy. The Church is celebrating 2000 years of the living presence of Jesus Christ, he said, commenting on Tertio Millennio Adveniente, Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic exhortation on the Great Jubilee.

But while Christian hearts should be overflowing with joy, it cannot all stop with the year 2000, Stephanie Parniak remarked, a member of the Canadian Catholic Students Association. “The Great Jubilee certainly must be a time to rejoice,” she said, “but let’s not forget there will also be a 2001, 2002, 2003 and so forth.” The University of Western Ontario student explained she hoped the Jubilee would especially be a time of renewal for the Church that would include outreach, particularly to young people. Representatives of other national associations shared similar hopes for new and renewed efforts in outreach, including dialogue and reconciliation with native peoples, other Christians, and Catholics estranged from the Church.

Jubilee flavour

Repeating a concern expressed at a recent CCCB gathering on Jubilee preparations involving diocesan representatives that had met in Toronto in February, forum participants had hesitations about large national gatherings and Canadian mega-projects for the year 2000, while at the same time indicating something should be done in every locale to celebrate the event. Pointing out that organizations already have activities and projects under way apart from the Jubilee, the Commission chairman, Toronto’s Auxiliary Bishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, said, “Life goes on in our dioceses. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is not going to embark on huge Jubilee projects. What is important is giving many ongoing activities a Jubilee spirit.” Forum participants noted as well some apocalyptic “gloom and doom” fears to which the Church needs to respond.

Note: The 14 national Catholic associations represented were:

Ascending Life
Canadian Association of Knights of Columbus
Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry (including Canadian Catholic Students Association)
Canadian Catholic Conference of Secular Institutes and Associations of Consecrated Secular Life
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association
Canadian Francophone Council for Promoting Vocations
Canadian Religious Conference
Catholic Health Association of Canada
Catholic Women’s League of Canada
Faith and Light International
Federation of l’Arche
National Federation of Councils of Priests
Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Canada