(Vatican Radio) Who would have thought that the London Olympics could offer the perfect opportunity to put New Evangelisation into practise? The Catholic Church of England and Wales- that’s who, and in particular the network of Christian Churches and communities in the host city: “I am delighted to be able to report that aside from there being three masses celebrated everyday within the athlete’s village itself, specifically for the athletes and officials, the highest attendance at any of the religious services is at daily Mass. There are a number of athletes and officials from various nations who are coming there every day and they are placing Christ at the beginning and the centre of all they do”, says James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 London Games. Listen to James Parker’s full interview with Emer McCarthy:
As the world watches Baltimore native Michael Phelps swim his last lap into Olympic history and holds its breath to see if the fastest man on earth Jamaican Usain Bolt can hold his record, Parker reveals that this ‘Super Saturday’ – when more than 48 gold medals are up for grabs – the temperature is really beginning to change in London.
“People are beginning to come out of their homes they want to meet, to be together for festivities. The Churches have been preparing for this. The Catholic church and other Christian communities have organised festivals to harness this community spirit. So that people have the opportunity to speak about what brings joy to their lives and an opportunity to speak about Christ”.
On Pope’s orders BXVI generation invades London
One year ago this month Pope Benedict XVI told the future of the global Church that their task was to bring Christ to ends of the earth and among contemporary society. Again this month he repeated this mandate in his missionary prayer intentions for August: “that young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the end of the earth”
Proving that they earnestly take him at his word, young Catholics from 21 nations have invaded London’s Olympic borough, pitching their tents on the green lawns of Bonaventure’s Catholic high school, creating their own Joshua Camp.
Over the next three days as Olympic fever reaches high pitch, these young men and women, boys and girls will be attending daily catechesis, prayer vigils, Eucharistic Adoration and Mass in the shadow of the Olympic stadium.
Parker says these days of reflection, prayer and meditation are a vital part of mission: “It’s not just about street evangelisation, its about being open to the message of Christ in our own hearts first and foremost. It’s not just a message that we share, We are sharing Christ with the people around us”.
On Tuesday, Josuha Camp will then up sticks and the young Catholics will be out and about mingling with sports fans from across the globe and local East London residents.
“What’s important about this is that the camp is that for many of the locals – its quite a poor area- they have no way fo getting any tickets to see the events themselves. The Joshua Camp is about going to the poor and needy on the periphery of the Games and saying ‘come and see what its all about’ and not only but also ‘come and take part of this great banquet that God’s got prepared for us’”.