Worldwide television exposure doesn’t normally accompany an event at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. But the April 26 Vigil Celebration for soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II has a built-in worldwide appeal — especially with thousands of youth having been invited to participate.
Thus, the bilingual event — hosted by Archbishop José Gomez and featuring joyous music and contemplative prayer time — will be broadcast on EWTN beginning at 7 p.m. to 144 countries.
The Vigil Celebration also marks an important and public introduction of the archdiocesan Office of New Evangelization, formed last year at the behest of Archbishop Gomez, and inspired by Pope John Paul’s coining of the term (one reason he is the focus of the celebration). The Office of New Evangelization and the Cathedral are coordinating this event.
“Pope John Paul had an amazing connection with youth,” explained Father Ed Benioff, director of the Office of New Evangelization. “He began the World Youth Day celebration, and his appearance with the youth during his 1987 visit to Los Angeles was one of the most memorable parts of his time here. So it is only natural that we celebrate that connection at this event.”
In a poignant tie-in to that September 1987 papal visit to Los Angeles, armless guitarist-singer Tony Melendez — who played for the pope that day in Universal City and was afterward embraced by the Holy Father who exclaimed, “Tony! Tony!” — will perform at the Vigil Celebration. He will be joined by the band Love Resonate, singers Danielle Rose and Miriam Solis, and a choir of young adults.
“We are also hoping many people who were at that 1987 event might attend the Cathedral that evening,” said Father Benioff, who will introduce Archbishop Gomez at the event. “We certainly want youth there, but everyone is invited.”
Along with music, the evening will include praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Once EWTN breaks away from its Cathedral coverage (to prepare for its canonization coverage from Rome), attendees are invited to stay at the Cathedral for Eucharistic Adoration inside, or enjoy snacks and films on John Paul II outside on the Cathedral Plaza.
Father Benioff stressed that Pope John XXIII will not be ignored at the vigil —in fact, his and John Paul’s canonizations will be celebrated together on April 27 at a special 3:30 p.m. Mass of Thanksgiving, with Archbishop Gomez presiding.
“But because of John Paul’s connection to youth and to evangelization, he’s getting more attention at the vigil celebration,” said Father Benioff. “We are hoping, in this digital age, that youth especially will come to our website, and make evangelization a priority. Along with Archbishop Gomez, we feel this can be a bridge to people becoming more energized and active in their faith, and that it can lead to their involvement in a variety of ministries.”
The April 26 Vigil Celebration begins at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Information: (213) 637-7542. The April 27 Canonization Mass of Thanksgiving begins at 3:30 p.m. Information: (213) 680-5200.