Guest star Beata Bednarz and her band perform at the 2013 Festival of Religious Song. (Photo by Caroline Wojdylo)
By Caroline Wojdylo
The Catholic Youth Studio (KSM) organized the 24th annual International Festival of Religious Song on Nov. 23-24, at the John Paul II Polish Cultural Centre in Mississauga. The Festival was attended by over 800 people from all over the GTA that came to listen to 21 talented performers and to praise God for the gifts He has given them.
This year’s theme was “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations.” The special guest was an award-winning Christian band lead by Beata Bednarz, who flew in from Poland for the Festival. The goal of the event resonated with the mission of John Paul II — to go and evangelize the culture.
On Saturday, many beautiful Christian voices had the opportunity to perform in a competition. The performing English and Polish groups were either in the children or adults category and were judged by the Bednarz and her band. The winners received prizes such as statues of Jesus Magistrum and official diplomas signed by the director of KSM and organizer of the Festival, Fr. Marcin Serwin, OMI. The following day the winning acts performed once more followed by Bednarz’a climatic performance with her amazing band, whose gifted members have been asked to play for Elton John and Andrea Bocelli, among others.
The successful event was a great way to deepen our faith, give praise to God through beautiful music, and support young talented Christians who have found that the best way to communicate with God is through song.
(Wojdylo, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Bishop Allen Academy in Toronto.)
Toronto’s Good Shepherd has launched a Twitter campaign this Thanksgiving where through Twitter, you can help feed Turkeys, and in turn the charity organization feeds the homeless. You can watch the Turkey’s being fed live at www.homelessturkey.com.
Here’s how it works in the words of the Good Shepherd:
“Together we can feed the homeless this Thanksgiving. We know it’s hard to give food or money to every homeless person you pass. So help us feed them. The Good Shepherd in Toronto serves more than 1200 meals to the homeless everyday. This Thanksgiving we’re helping feed the homeless by getting you to feed some live turkeys via twitter using #homelessturkey to dispense a small portion of feed from our hashtag activated seed hopper every time you tweet. And for every 1000 tweets our sponsors will donate 10 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Hopefully, we can give “gobble” a whole new meaning.”
Death is such an unfamiliar experience that losing someone can often lead to a loss of all faith in or putting blame on God.
As much as my faith has quickly strengthened, I unexpectedly lost a friend, which truly tested all I believed in. Even though the funeral was not a traditional Catholic mass, the Christian Service was comforting and enlightening. The topic of death can shine such a dark light onto us, but like pastor mentioned, it is in those moments that the love of God is present, and most needed.
This particular loss of a friend was probably harder with a strong faith. Before I could accept that my friend had died, I had to fully entrust that God was there to purify us and welcome us into His kingdom. I had to fully surrender to Him, to trust all the teachings of the faith about Heaven, to accept that our earthly lives are for God and to know that when we leave this earth it is to go to Him, which is when we become fully alive.
Most importantly I had to remember that Jesus died to save us from our sins. Through the love of God, he conquered death. On the cross, Jesus cried out “‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mathew 27:46), which shows that the loneliness one feels in time of death is part of being human. But in Luke 22:39, Jesus says, “‘yet not my will, but yours be done.’” Then it is written “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” If Jesus can conquer death through dying, then anyone one of us can find comfort in Him when one is lost.
Thus, one must find God to understand that our heavenly life is where we are called to be and it is through our greatest struggles that we find the greatest glory. Most importantly, easing the grief comes from knowing that when someone dies, their (eternal) life is just the beginning.