The Old Man and a Quarter-Million Kids

July 31, 2002

by Dennis Lombard

Just when the news media almost had us convinced that American Catholics should throw in the towel, give up their faith in the wake of all the priest and bishop scandal, some 250,000 (many more by some estimates) Roman and Eastern Catholic youth gathered in Toronto from across Canada and from some three dozen countries last weekend and sang: "Love lifted on the cross for me, my Lord, my God, my salvation...."

Their lilting choruses of "Song of the Cross" sung over and over again sounded like a heavenly choir, not a lost generation. This was no rock concert or protest march. They hauled an almost life-size wooden cross and lifted it up for the whole world to see - a cross that had been transported like an Olympic Torch some 42,000 kilometers across Canada (via plane, boat, snowmobile, dog-sled, tractor, and on foot) in preparation for the event. The cross had visited over 350 cities, towns and villages, and even gone to
Ground Zero in New York City.

The young people clapped and waved their hands in deep and sincere worship. Young men and women boldly shared testimonies of their lives changed by their faith, their testimonies carried out across Ontario Place park by loud speaker and across the world by cable TV.

Once more in these pre-Armageddon days another prophetic Bible verse rings true: "Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." [Joel 2:28] Their faith that filled the crisp Canadian air was palpable - surreal and very real at the same time. The future hope of the Catholic Church, the entire Christian church, our nation, and indeed our troubled world appeared to be in the hands and hearts of a "mob" of under-twenty pilgrims. Surveys of that age group (18-24) in Canada show them more
optimistic that their elders, more turned on by volunteerism than politics.

"Donít let anybody look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers, in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity," the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protege Timothy (2 Timothy 4:12 NIV). Look out for our young people today; the Millennial Generation! They are reported to be turning their backs on the despair of the Baby Boomers and Boomersí Babies. They are soaking up the Abstinence Only and Donít Be A Dope lessons that the liberals fought so passionately to kill. Kids as early as middle school are looking at the world we created and saying, "We can do better than that!"

These young people cheered every halting word from a feeble 82-year-old Pope John-Paul II, himself undoubtedly wearied of media-fanned sex scandals, but obviously warmed by his momentary rock-star-like status. "Your enthusiasm and your joy is a sure sign of your love of the Lord and your desire to serve Him," he intoned. More cheers - and he smiled as they cheered. He had an audience captivated by hope, not scandal - what a relief!

The miracle of that moment was carried live on EWTN but seemingly ignored in my Sunday paper. I wish it would not be lost on all of us people of faith. The network news missed the excitement of Saturday and glommed onto the popeís brief comments on the sex scandals on Sunday. Saturday, however, showed us the real face of the Catholic Church, and indeed of worldwide Christianity - far from daunted in the face of worldwide terrorism and persecution. These young adults displayed enough faith in which all generations may find great hope.


© 2002 Home Times Family Newspaper

Dennis Lombard has been a community newspaper editor since 1972, and is currently editor and publisher of Home Times Family Newspaper, a traditional conservative monthly which he founded in 1990. He resides in Lake Worth, Florida with his wife, Mary, and they have seven children, 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Home Times, soon going weekly, serves Palm Beach and Martin Counties in Florida and the nation by mail subscription, covering world, national, and local people and issues, home and family, arts and entertainment, and religion, all with a traditional conservative worldview. For a free copy call toll-free: 888-439-3509 or go to

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For more of Dennis' articles, visit his archives.

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