Prelate Stresses Hospitality for Olympic Athletes

Invites Vancouver Visitors to Attend Ash Wednesday Mass

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, JAN. 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Vancouver is mobilizing for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which will begin Feb. 12 in that city.



Archbishop Michael Miller sent a letter in which he affirmed that the Vancouver Archdiocese is embracing the theme of "radical hospitality" toward the athletes and participants in this event.

He explained that this means "to see Jesus as both guest and host at these games."

"Vancouver has been preparing for your arrival for many years!" the prelate wrote to the Olympic participants.

He continued, "In addition to opening many splendid new buildings and dramatically improving roads and transit, we have also been volunteering to make this event a success."

The archbishop invited the participants to "consider visiting one of the archdiocese's downtown hospitality centers for athletes," including one site at the cathedral and another across from the BC Place Stadium.

"We think you will find these places to be 'sanctuaries' while you take a break from the rigors of competition, and we hope you will find a common language in the love of Jesus Christ," he said.

Archbishop Miller pointed out that the Winter Olympics, which will run through Feb. 28, will coincide with the beginning of Lent, as Christians "begin their journey on the path towards Easter."

Thus he sent an invitation to the visitors to attend the Feb. 17 Ash Wednesday Mass at one of the archdiocese's churches, "and of course, to celebrate Sunday Mass with us while you are here."

Friendship

"We wish all of you who have come to our beautiful city a satisfying and rewarding competition during the 2010 Olympics but, most of all, we hope you will experience the 'radical hospitality' of Vancouverites," the prelate said.

He concluded by expressing the hope that these games will "draw us all closer together in a spirit of solidarity and friendship."

To this end, the archdiocesan parishes are currently involved in initiatives to organize meetings, congresses and community outreach projects.

The archdiocese also joined the "More Than Gold" Christian network, which is working to reach out to and serve the Olympic participants.

The B.C. Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper, reported, for example, that the Catholic Women's League has been actively participating in the network's program of workshops regarding the issue of human trafficking.

The league is also partnering with the network to make and distribute welcome bags, not only for the visitors, but also for the homeless of Vancouver.

They are even knitting scarves for distribution to the homeless and impoverished.

"The Olympics must become a positive occasion to send messages and not forget the social problems of our time and of this part of the world," Paul Schratz, director of the archdiocesan newspaper, told the Italian Avvenire.

Dan Hahn, director of the archdiocesan Office of Service and Justice, affirmed, "We want to become the face of God for the visitors."