by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — Part of the joy of being Roman Catholic is belonging to the Universal Church, according to Catholic revivalist Fr Tony Ricard.
Fr Ricard was one of six principal speakers at the 2014 Eucharistic Convention held in Forrest Hill from April 25 to 27.

Father Tony Ricard speaks with the members of the Mother of Divine Mercy youth choir

Fr Ricard filled the Eucharistic Convention with energy and joy with his charismatic preaching, singing and dancing, which was not traditional but was effective.
“Part of the joy of being a Catholic is we belong to this phenomenal thing called Roman Catholic Church. And we need to be able to let people know how exciting it is to be a part of this Church,” he said.
At the beginning of his speech, Fr Ricard joined the Mother of Divine Mercy Youth choir in a performance that represented New Zealand culture.
“It’s all about being Roman Catholics. And the joy of being a Roman Catholic is that we belong to a universal church. And universal means universal, not uniform. If we belong to a uniform church,
everything’s supposed to be the same exact way. But we belong to a church that when we praise God, we can praise God from our own culture, our own perspective and we can use our own vernacular, our own words,” he said.
Hailing from New Orleans, the black Creole priest punctuated his preaching with humour and song. He said this was how they do it at his parish in Louisiana.
“We would have such a great time at church. It was amazing. What was
our secret? What were we doing? We let God be God and we decided to
be his disciples. We put God in charge Universality a great gift, says priest and we let God tell us how to pray,” he said.
He said they prayed in a very Roman Catholic way.
”Everything we did was in line with canon law, and the missal and the General Instructions for the missal. We didn’t break any Church law. We didn’t do anything that the book said you couldn’t
do,” he said.
He pointed out the Catholic Mass is a very active rite. “It’s not as if we don’t move in the Church. God knows, the Catholic Church
is the most active Church in all churches. You go to physical
education when you become a Catholic. Because you know at some point in the Mass, you go up, down, on your knees, up, down, on your knees,” Fr Ricard said, eliciting laughter.
“Have you noticed when the priests move their hands, how they all move at the same time and do all the same things? Well, why can they do it and the people can’t?,” he asked.
He said he had been to a Mass in Medjugorje that was celebrated in
Croatian.
“I’ve always spoken in English, so you know Croatian is a struggle,” he said. “I have no idea what they were saying. But I knew what was going on.”
He said his people’s history had been one of hardship. “My ancestors
learned how to pray in such a way that they know who they are and whose they are. They use songs to strengthen each other’s journey of faith.”

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