February 10, 2002 - The Old Pope's Young Crusade
Hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world are getting ready to storm Toronto for World Youth Day in July. Father Thomas Rosica, national director and CEO of the organizing team, begins a series of columns in The Sunday Sun on preparations for the huge event.
Vatican City – A week ago last evening the lights were turned off in St. Peter”s Basilica in the Vatican and more than 7,000 people — most of them sisters, brothers and priests of the hundreds of religious orders and communities in Rome — lit small candles.
Then something rather remarkable happened. As the light spread throughout the basilica, a beam of white light came down from the ceiling and surrounded Pope John Paul who was seated off to the side of the main altar.
The Pope himself held a tall candle in his hand, but the effect of the white light from above surrounding him, and the accompanying hauntingly beautiful chant, created a remarkable moment. The occasion was the annual celebration for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, Candlemas Day, and a liturgy that commemorates the gift of religious life in the Catholic church.
Seated next to me in the front row were six members of four police departments in Canada: RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Services and Peel Regional Police. The six men traveled with me to Rome the day before to attend a series of security consultations with those whose duty it is to protect the man surrounded by the white light.
It wasn”t a typical Saturday night for them, I”m sure. But Police Chief Julian Fantino (Toronto), Inspectors Dale Begbie (RCMP), Gerry Mann (OPP), Larry Sinclair (Toronto), Jim Patton (Peel) and former RCMP Inspector Doug Nickson (now director of security for World Youth Day 2002) seemed to relish the scene unfolding before them.
It also gave them an opportunity to see how Vatican security forces deal with crowds, ceremonies and protecting the most watched man in the world, all the while preserving the dignity of such sacred moments. The road to World Youth Day 2002 begins right here.
The first event began at the Pope”s invitation and was held on Palm Sunday in 1984 in Rome, setting off a pilgrimage of young people that”s led to Buenos Aries to Czestechowa to Denver to Manila to Paris — and now to Toronto this summer, July 18-28, culminating in the Pope”s visit to our city. Before that can happen, the Pope invited our delegation to meet with him last Monday.
We were ushered into the large, formal yet simple papal library. Within minutes, another door opened and Pope John Paul entered, walking slowly with the help of a cane.
I was then called forward to introduce the security officials with me. As each one came before the Holy Father, I presented him and spoke of his important role with the World Youth Day and the papal visit to Canada. Some presented the Pope with small gifts and requests for prayers. In turn, the Pope gave each one a small rosary.
We had a few minutes to exchange news about this project so dear to his heart. The Pope then asked us to have a group photo.
The road to World Youth Day is a long and arduous one –passing through the many challenges of a huge, at times unwieldy project that has already involved thousands of people in Canada. There are more than 100,000 people from 114 countries between the ages of 16 and 35 registered to attend.
A year ago the Pope entrusted to young Canadians a simple wooden cross that is wending its way throughout the country like an “Olympic torch” rallying the troops for the great events of Toronto this summer.
Every now and then preparations leave the more than 130 of us on the World Youth Day 2002 national organizing team a bit breathless and dizzy, especially in light of the events of last Sept. 11.
But I am convinced, now more than ever, that this fragile, broken world needs the World Youth Day because it brings young people together to realize that they are not alone. It invites them to celebrate their Christian faith with hundreds of thousands of their contemporaries.
It will be a school of justice, peace, brotherhood and sisterhood that the world needs to experience so badly these days. No wonder the whole idea makes Pope John Paul II light up when he hears the word Toronto.
It will be the experience of a lifetime for so many young people the world over, but especially for the old Pope who is very young in mind and heart.
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
February 17, 2002 - Wake-Up call for the Human Spirit; Youth Day 'Gift' Sweeping Canada
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Special To The Sun
When the Canadian Catholic bishops appointed me in 1999 to be the national director and chief executive officer of World Youth Day 2002, I remember responding to their rather daunting invitation with three desires.
I would accept the task only if our efforts were not for a meteoric event that would be over and done with on July 28, 2002. I dreamed of the whole project as a kind of massive pilgrimage of the whole church. I wished that this experience would be a kind of retreat and spiritual awakening for the entire church in Canada.
And I really hoped that the project would be for young people and by young people, not an event hosted by a group of adults for throngs of young teenagers.
The bishops of Canada — every one of them — share the same vision and have been working closely with the national team from the very beginning.
We began the work of selecting the core group in late 1999, in order to be ready to go to Rome in June 2000 to work closely with the Italian national organizing team and the Vatican in the preparation and presentation of the Jubilee 2000 World Youth Day 2000. Thirteen of us spent two full months shadowing and collaborating with the people who hosted World Youth Day 2000. Two years later, and five months from the event, our initial dreams, desires and hopes are being fulfilled as the gift of World Youth Day is literally sweeping across our country.
Last Wednesday, our entire team gathered together, as we do almost every month, for a day of reflection and prayer at Morrow Park, the sprawling motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, in North York.
It was during the course of the day that I realized in no small way that World Youth Day had already begun among us. Our staff now numbers 135 people, most of them young adults.
They come from over 30 cities in Canada and 17 countries of the world. The staff is made up of professionals from all walks of life, including travel agents, airline personnel, several staff from the Toronto Olympic Bid Committee, a medical doctor, finance executives, set designers from the movie world, priests and sisters from Canada and far beyond, a Jewish man, a Muslim woman, and best representatives from at least six Protestant denominations and three Eastern churches.
The young adults, many of whom are here in a volunteer capacity for one or two years, come from throughout Canada — Vancouver, Saskatoon, North Bay, Quebec City, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Huntsville, Goderich, Wiarton, Sault Ste. Marie, Barrie, Regina, Brampton, Gatineau, Winnipeg, to name but some of the Canadian cities.
And the members of the international group come from Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, Panama, Jamaica, Brazil, Korea, Trinidad, the United States, Iraq, Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Taiwan.
The languages in the offices are many, as reflected in a Web site that is now operating in nine languages. It”s not called World Youth Day for nothing!
These young people are literally connecting the world with the golden threads of faith, goodwill, generosity, prayer and peace.
At the conclusion of the world-wide synod of bishops in the Vatican last October, the bishops wrote: “And you, young people, you are “sentinels of the morning.” It is Pope John Paul II who gave you this name. “How is the Lord of history asking you to build a civilization of love? “You have a keen sense of what honesty and sincerity require … How can we be disciples of Jesus together and put into practice Christ”s teachings on the Mount of the Beatitudes?... ”
I think the bishops of the world, and especially the bishops of this country, would be proud of what is happening on the national team of World Youth Day 2002.
In this age of much division, despair and darkness, a light is burning brightly in those preparing for the great event. There is cause for much hope as the story of the Beatitudes unfolds in our midst.
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
February 24, 2002 - Crossing new Paths
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Special To The Sun
Several hundred thousand people from around the world are coming to Toronto for World Youth Day 2002 in July. Father Thomas Rosica, a Basilian priest and national director of the organizing team, writes a Sunday column on preparations for the event.
New York City – At the heart of the World Youth Day is a very simple, powerful and ancient Christian symbol that is taking Canada by storm: Two large planks of wood, known as the World Youth Day cross.
More than a few journalists and onlookers have called the cross the “Olympic torch” of the huge Catholic festival that will arrive in Canada in July.
Seventeen years ago, at the close of the Holy Year of the Redemption at the Vatican, Pope John Paul entrusted to the young people of the world this simple, 12-foot wooden cross, asking them to carry it around the world as a sign of the love the Lord Jesus has for humankind and to proclaim to everyone that only in Christ, who died and is risen, is there salvation and redemption.
Since that day, carried by generous hands and loving hearts, the cross has made a long, uninterrupted pilgrimage across the continents, to demonstrate, as the Pope stated so well, that “the cross walks with young people and young people walk with the cross.”
Last year, in a moving Palm Sunday papal ceremony at St. Peter”s Square attended by Canadian youth representing 35 dioceses from across our country, and before a crowd of nearly 80,000 people, the cross was handed over to us by Italian youth who hosted the last World Youth Day in 2000. Since April 11, 2001, the World Youth Day Cross has literally touched the three oceans that border Canada. It has visited our cities, towns and rural areas, drawing huge throngs of people into the streets for processions, prayers, all-night vigils, tears, moments of reconciliation and peace.
CARRIED ON FOOT
Such expressions of popular piety have been absent for far too many years. The pilgrim cross has been a witness to the power that World Youth Day can bring to the world. Later this spring, during the final leg of its pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2002, the cross will be carried to Toronto on foot by relay teams of young people from Montreal, along the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. It will then spend 40 days visiting the parishes and institutions of the archdiocese of Toronto before becoming best a centerpiece of the great events that will take place in July.
Yet, in the midst of a carefully orchestrated pilgrimage throughout the 72 dioceses of Canada, the cross is taking a detour today and tomorrow on a journey that is not normally part of the Youth Day preparations in a given country. Early this morning, two buses filled with representatives of many Canadian dioceses, together with representatives of police, ambulance and firefighters, set out with the cross in tow to New York City. After a vigil mass at St. Patrick”s Cathedral in the heart of Manhattan this evening with hundreds of young people from the archdiocese of New York and the neighbouring dioceses, and an early morning mass tomorrow, we will carry the cross on a pilgrimage to Ground Zero, to pray for the victims of last year”s great tragedy at the World Trade Center and elsewhere in the United States.
This visit is to be a sign of hope to the people of America, and the entire world, who struggle to understand the terror, violence and death-dealing forces that humanity experienced on Sept. 11, 2001.
No one has described the pilgrimage of the cross better than Sebastien Lacroix, the 21-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., on the national team of World Youth Day 2002, who has organized the pilgrimage of the World Youth Day cross throughout Canada.
“IT TOUCHES HEARTS”
He told a spellbound audience last summer: “I am the agent of the cross. I see to its goings and comings, from sea to sea to sea. I make sure that the cross is left alone as little as possible, and that the people of this land open wide the doors of the most distant churches to receive it.
“This cross accompanies thousands of young people on their journey to Jesus Christ. The cross has stood in vigil throughout entire nights, and in parks close to young people who are wounded. It has stood silently in chapels allowing for quiet contemplation. The cross transforms. The cross heals. The cross touches hearts. Let us allow ourselves to be touched by the cross.”
When all the commotion and noise of World Youth Day is over, I am convinced that one of the lasting memories that will remain in our country will be this simple, wooden cross that has been a huge blessing and a source of consolation, healing, strength and peace to the hundreds of thousands of people who have embraced it, touched it, kissed it, and allowed themselves to be touched by the awesome message and memory of the one who died upon it.
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
March 3, 2002 - Building Peace; Visit to Ground Zero With a Wooden Cross an act of defiance
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Special To The Sun
As many as a million young people from around the world are heading for Toronto this July for World Youth Day 2002. Father Thomas Rosica, a Basilian priest and national director of the organizing team, writes a Sunday column on preparations for the huge event.
Last Monday morning, as our convoy of buses led by a New York City police department vehicle headed down to lower Manhattan, the conversations among the 100-plus young people, emergency medical personnel, police and fire officials grew very quiet. Street barricades increased as we neared Canal St. To our right were large trucks loading debris onto barges in the river, and NYPD officers ushered us farther down a narrow road, closed to traffic since last Sept. 11.
We drove past a marina tucked in between luxury condominiums, many with their windows boarded up or simply not there at all.
More police officers escorted our convoy into a narrow street and we got off the two buses that had been emblazoned with the words of Pope John Paul: “The Cross walks with young people and young people walk with the Cross.”
What happened next was for me and for many others a very public act of defiance and courage. Six young people from the World Youth Day 2002 delegation took the large cross out of the specially-built trailer and began to procede with it up to the platform built especially for the families of victims of the World Trade Center tragedy. As they carried the cross, the rest of us sang the Taize refrain: “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” The family of Ken Basnicki, a Torontonian who lost his life on Sept. 11, stood near me.
SINGING GREW LOUDER
As the cross was placed in its metal stand at the edge of the huge, concrete crater where the twin towers once stood, the singing grew louder, against the background sounds of trucks and cranes removing debris.
It was a defiant act that we were doing, because there in a place that spoke loudly of destruction, devastation, terror and death, we raised up a wooden cross — an instrument of death that has been transformed into the central life-giving symbol for Christians. The significance of the action was lost on no one.
Earlier that morning at a Mass in a parish church near the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican”s ambassador to the UN told us in his moving homily:
“The sacred scriptures speak to us about sin, and the desperate need we all have for conversion. What you will see today when you visit Ground Zero is the consequence of sin: A crater of dirt and ashes, of human destruction and sorrow; a vestige of sin that is so evil that words could never suffice to explain it. Nevertheless, it is never enough to talk about the effects of terrorism, the destruction it causes, or those who perpetrate it … We do a disservice to those who have died in this tragedy if we fail to search out the causes. In this search, a broad canvas of political, economic, social, religious and cultural factors emerge. The common denominator in these factors is hate, a hate that transcends any one people or region. It is a hatred of humanity itself, and it kills even the one who hates.”
The message of World Youth Day 2002 is about bringing hope, light and peace into a world torn apart by hatred, ethnic strife, terrorism and war. The reality of World Youth Day is a true school of justice, dialogue and peace for young people and for the entire world.
Gillian, a young woman on our national staff from Saskatoon, summed up our visit to Ground Zero with these words: “Only now do I begin to grasp what we saw. I liken Ground Zero to a construction site. I realized that, amid all the destruction, how important it is that Ground Zero really become a construction site — on which to build hope, peace, and forgiveness. The World Youth Day Cross is the cornerstone for construction to begin. Thanks, Father Tom, for leading us on a pilgrimage to New York.”
YOUTH DAY WEB SITE: WYD2002.ORG
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
March 10, 2002 - Salt and Light; The Theme for World Youth Day
Is simple, yet rich in meaning
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Special To The Sun
Each World Youth Day is given a special biblical theme, chosen by Pope John Paul II. That theme serves as a unifying principle and guide for all content and aspects of the international event that is scheduled for Toronto from July 23-28, 2002.
Last year at the magnificent outdoor celebration of Palm Sunday in St. Peter”s Square at the Vatican, Pope John Paul announced to the world the theme for Canada”s World Youth Day: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world,” a rich saying of Jesus taken from Matthew”s Sermon on the Mount (5:13-14).
Salt and light are so simple, and yet so rich in meaning, symbolism, and power. Let”s consider just for a moment what Jesus” words mean, and what impact they have for the 17th World Youth Day, for Toronto and for Canada.
Throughout the ages, salt has played a role — hidden but essential — in commerce and industry as well as in ordinary daily life.
For example, our ancestors used it to preserve food. Fish was dried and salted over the period of several months before being shipped across the ocean.
Also, salt enhances the flavour of our foods. Jesus invites us to give, like salt does, a special flavour to the world, and to transform it from the inside out.
In every period of history, salt and light have played important roles in daily life. During the time of Jesus, these two images were charged with a very definite best symbolism.
In Jesus” own Aramaic language, one word was used to signify both “earth” and “clay (that is, earthenware) oven.” Instead of using wood to heat an oven (for example, to bake bread), people used a mixture of animal dung and salt. This type of salt (gathered from the shores of the Dead Sea) was very coarse, unlike the fine table salt we use today.
Salt was a catalyst that allowed the heating mixture to burn. But after a certain time, the salt would lose this property and would no longer be of any value.
That is why Jesus said, “It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Thus, for Jesus and the people of his time, salt was a chemical agent that helped them to start a fire – to bake bread, to provide warmth, to give light.
Now we can better understand the metaphor of salt and its links to light. To be salt of the earth means to be salt used in a clay oven. It means to light a fire within ourselves that will burn away the darkness while helping us to become the light of the world.
Jesus also calls us to be a light for the world, to shine in the darkness. The image of light has an important place in the Old and New Testaments. In the Prologue to his Gospel, John uses the image of light to express the presence of God: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5).
Jesus says that he is “the light of the world” (John 9:5). Light penetrates darkness. Light makes all things visible. Light spreads warmth. By inviting us to be “light,” Jesus invites us to make him present in the world. Sharing this Good News with our brothers and sisters is exactly what Jesus is asking us to do when he calls us to be the light of the world, a light that will shine for all.
Pope John Paul”s theme for World Youth Day 2002 could not be more appropriate for our society, our world, and many parts of our lives that are steeped in darkness.
Our lives often lack the taste, the flavour, the presence of salt and light. We often grow accustomed to tasteless living and life in the shadows — we are afraid of the light because it reveals us. Through World Youth Day, the Pope invites young people to give the world taste and zest, light and joy. He invites them to bring the taste, the desire, the light of holiness and the love of God and Jesus out in public — into our streets and public places. We are in for a surprise and a treat of much salt and light in our midst in four short months.
World Youth Day 2002 has produced two special books to help people prepare for the great celebration.
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
March 17, 2002 - Let this Song Light Up your World
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Special To The Sun
Every World Youth Day has a commissioned song or hymn that serves as a synthesis or mirror of the event.
From the first World Youth Day in 1984 in Rome, the song Resta qui con noi (Stay here with us) continues to be a lively, powerful hymn sung by young people throughout the world. The simple refrain “Abba Ojcze” (Abba, Father) from the 1991 Polish World Youth Day in Czestochowa allowed young people the world over to learn a song with a deep message in Polish.
Denver”s World Youth Day in 1993 introduced We Are One Body to the WYD collection. Its easy refrain, and important theme made it a hit.
For the Jubilee World Youth Day 2000 in Rome, a group of Italian youth from Hope Music School in Rome wrote the moving song Emmanuel.
I will never forget what I felt on that hot August night in 2000, on a field outside Rome with nearly two million young people, singing that hymn as the Pope”s helicopter flew over the veritable sea of youthful humanity.
The song chosen for World Youth Day 2002 was Light of the World/Lumiere du Monde by the renown Quebec liturgical composer Fr. Robert Lebel. Composed by Lebel, its English lyrics were written by Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Auxiliary Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie, the youngest bishop in Canada, and an opera singer by profession!
The song exists in three official versions: English, French, International (with verses in Spanish and Italian). Over the past months, verses have also been written in Korean, German, Portuguese, and several other languages.
The song was produced by artistic director of World Youth Day 2002 Pedro-Guevara-Mann at Toronto”s own Cherry Beach Sound Studio.
Fr. Lebel used the theme of this year”s World Youth Day: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world”, as well as texts, messages, and expressions of the Pope to young people as the background for his song Light of the World.
Here are the lyrics of the first three verses:
1. The One that we have seen with our own eyes,
The One that we have touched and felt with our own hands,
The One that we have heard with our own ears,
The One that in the depths of our hearts we have met:
He is the One who we proclaim to you …
His splendour is on all,
For he shines upon the world.
2. So many in our world drift into sleep,
while others only know a darkness without end.
Let brothers rise to call them from the deep!
Let sisters take their hands to heal and be their friends.
Together, let us stand against the storm
and in the heart of night be the watchers of the morn.
Refrain: The light of the world
The salt of the earth,
We scatter the darkness
When love becomes our way.
The light of the world
Christ is our light.
We shine with his brightness,
The reflection of his light
From day to day!
3. So many feel that they have yet to find the meaning of their lives,
their value and their worth;
If we just walked along with hearts made kind ...
And listened to their tales and sought to ease their hurt;
Perhaps they”d hearken to the news we bear,
And in the broken bread,
Come to know true love and care!
Light of the World is not only the signature of Canada”s World Youth Day, but it is a reminder to the whole church and the world that the powers of darkness and fear will not triumph. Long after World Youth Day 2002 is over, young people will be singing about the light of Christ that scatters the darkness and brings us lasting justice, joy and peace.
Later this week, a group of young Canadians will join me in St. Peter”s Square in the Vatican along with more than 50,000 young Italians.
– Light of the World to help people prepare for the great celebrations of July 2002.
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
March 18, 2002 - Rome Rally for Youth Day. Daughter of WTC victim to speak
By Jennifer Caldwell, Toronto Sun
Delegates from Canada’s World Youth Day organization are descending on Rome today to meet the Pope and promote the huge international Catholic convention to be held in Toronto this summer. The event, running July 18-28, will include a papal visit and attract about 1 million spectators, the largest such gathering in Toronto’s history.
Rev. Tom Rosica, World Youth Day’s national director, arrived in Rome from France yesterday to spearhead a week of promotional events, which will include an address to the Pope at a huge rally in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday. Last week in Paris, Rosica unveiled the World Youth Day’s official song, Light of the World, to the French church. “It was very well received,” he said. “It is a very powerful song.” Rosica will be joined by other delegates, including the children of Ken Basnicki, who died in the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11.
Erica Basnicki and her brother Brennan will address Thursday’s rally, which is expected to attract more than 50,000 Italian youth. “It is a very big honour,” the Ryerson student said yesterday. “Religion was pretty important to my dad.” Erica, who leaves for Rome today, said that making an address to the world will contribute to her healing: “This will help me come to grips with what happened to my dad.”
She worries, though, about the daunting task of speaking in front of the Pope and a crowd of thousands. “I hope I don’t do anything wrong, or wear the wrong thing,” she said. The privilege, though, is bittersweet. “For our family to be chosen to represent our country, that’s huge,” the 21-year-old said. “I think it’s more special for my family because of my dad. I know he is proud and looking over us.”
March 24, 2002 - Logo Sends a Message
Youth Day Specials Help Celebrate Holy Week
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Special To The Sun
Vatican City – It can be seen on street banners, bridge banners, sweaters and T-shirts, coffee mugs, compact discs, church bulletins, publications, pens and baseball caps. It hangs on banners in Nunavut, in parish churches from coast to coast to coast in Canada, in the Cathedral of Monaco and in hundreds of churches, basilicas and chapels throughout the world.
Posters with our logo are found in dozens of churches in Rome, Paris, Munich, Santiago and Brussels. Over the past week, the logo was used very publicly at two large gatherings of young people in Paris, and last Thursday at a huge gathering of young people in St. Peter”s Square in Rome. Even the Pope wears a ski jacket and a gray vest emblazoned with the logo of World Youth Day 2002!
The young Canadian Catholic Michael Madden, design director for World Youth Day 2002, finalized the logo design, based on input from many young people and in consultation with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The logo then went to the Vatican for final approval in February 2001. It won instant recognition at the highest levels of the Church. Madden is quite pleased with the success of the logo and explained:
“Any logo is a visual soundbite. For this reason, a logo must be simple … The WYD logo is Catholic, youthful and Canadian. Furthermore, our logo presents the World Youth Day as an experience of Jesus Christ, an experience of the Church and the Christian community that will send young people on mission.”
The WYD 2002 logo consists of four elements that symbolize the location, participants and spirit of this international conference of young Catholics from July 18-28 this summer.
The marine blue top portion recalls Canada”s motto “A Mare usque ad Mare” (From sea to sea), based on Psalm 72:8: “God shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” Canada is surrounded by great bodies of water on its northern, western and eastern shores, and is a land rich with lakes and waterways. The shores of Canada and of Toronto have welcomed people from throughout the world, making the country a rich mosaic of faith, culture and ethnicity. Canada continues this tradition of multiculturalism and hospitality for the World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, on the shores of Lake Ontario.
The cross symbolizes the presence of Jesus Christ. He is the person the participants are coming to see. Meeting Him is the underlying reason for this journey that is a pilgrimage rather than a vacation or a mere trip.
Young participants will also experience the presence of Jesus Christ in the Church and in the others who are attending WYD. The shape of the cross is similar to the pastoral crozier or staff used by Pope John Paul II, who plans to attend WYD 2002. The yellow circle represents the youth who will attend WYD. The circle also reflects the sacred circle, which is part of the spirituality of the First Nations of Canada. Madden also felt that our logo had to maintain a visual link with previous World Youth Day logos. The same circle representing the participants was included in the WYD logos for Paris 1997 and Rome 2000. The repetition of this symbol creates continuity to underline that World Youth Days are an important part of the Church”s formation of young Catholics. The fourth element of the logo is the maple leaf, another symbol of Canada. It surrounds the symbol of the participants, representing the warm welcome foreign guests will receive on our shores.
Finally, you can get a good look at the message of World Youth Day on Vision TV beginning tonight. For the third year in a row, the National Catholic Broadcasting Council presents The National Catholic Mission 2002 on Vision TV. Filmed in North Bay, this year”s mission has as its theme “You are the salt of the earth … the light of the world,” the theme given to the World Youth Day by the Pope. For three consecutive evenings, tonight at 8 p.m. EST, tomorrow at 9 p.m. and Tuesday at 9 p.m., viewers will experience Canada”s youngest bishop, Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Jean Vanier, Natalie MacMaster, singer Michael Burgess, and speakers Barbara Coloroso and Anna Scully talking about what it means to be salt and light in our world today.
Featured in the mission will be the World Youth Day choir singing the official hymn “Light of the World.” What more could you ask for at the beginning of Holy Week, and the Church”s great journey with Jesus from passion, to death to resurrection?
March 25, 2002 - Pope Rallies Youth in Rome
Praises Toronto’s upcoming World Youth Day
By Erica Basnicki, Special to the Toronto Sun
ROME — Pope John Paul II praised Toronto’s upcoming World Youth Day before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday mass yesterday. The Pope also recognized World Youth Day delegates from Canada, in several languages, including English and French. The delegates are in Rome to promote the July 23-28 Toronto conference, which will attract hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from around the world, the largest gathering in Toronto’s history. It will also include a papal visit expected to attract up to one milion people.
“A special welcome to the young Canadians present this morning,” the Pope responded to cheering from the throng in St. Peter’s Square. “We’re looking forward to going to Toronto in July.” But the 81-year-old religious leader appeared frail and was often to understand. Despite the obvious deterioration in his condition, it was a rewarding moment for Canadian World Youth Day (WYD) delegates.
“I thought it was really significant that the Pope mentioned World Youth Day because it just goes to show the importance of the event,” said Debra Violette, 27, an organizer for WYD. “At work, it’s easy to think that this is an important event, but those were the first words of his homily.”
Janelle Reinhart, 21, who also works for WYD, agreed. “It just goes to show that the Pope is behind us, he’s a real ambassador and really pushes for the World Youth Day.” Yesterday’s Palm Sunday mass comes just three days after the main WYD celebration, also held in St. Peter’s Square.
During that event, young people aged 16 to 35 sang, clapped, cheered and prayed along with John Paul in celebration of this summer’s big event. Yesterday’s mass was more reserved, with several dozen priests, deacons and bishops surrounding the altar just outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. A procession of several hundred people made their way through the crowd carrying palms and olive branches.
Delegates of WYD gave readings and were part of the service. “I’ve already been to four World Youth Day events,” Violette said. Reinhart hails from Edmonton, but is happy with this year’s WYD venue. “Toronto is a great representation of Canada’s multiculturalism,” she said. That’s appropriate for an event hoping to attract youth from around the world.
During the mass, while people received communion, the Pope spoke freely to the crowd. “Without understanding the language, or even being able to hear him properly, I can still understand that he loves us and trusts us … with the future of the entire Church.”
Perhaps the greatest form of mutual admiration came from a group of Spanish youth who were cheering loudly for his Holiness. After several minutes, the Pope looked up, beaming from ear to ear, raised his hand and announced loudly, “Thank you for your enthusiam.”
© Madrid 2011JMJ
March 26, 2002 - Pilgrims getting taste of Canada
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
MIDLAND – Catholic youth from Italy and South America got a sneak peek yesterday at World Youth Day 2002 — and a taste of Canadian winter. The group of more than 30 delegates, who arrived in Toronto over the weekend, have begun a week-long pilgrimage across Ontario and Quebec to promote this summer”s conference.
It was the second visit to Canada for Ariel Ybarra, 22, a tourism student in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who was among the millions of young Catholics who travelled to Rome and Paris for World Youth Day celebrations in 2000 and 1997.
“In Argentina we don”t know much about Canada,” Ybarra said, shivering in the cold. “You can walk in the city (in Toronto) and see people from all over the world. You live World Youth Day all year.” Yesterday, the group visited Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons in Midland, where they walked among the monuments to Jesuit missionaries killed by natives in The group travelled to Ottawa last night, and will visit Montreal, Trois Rivieres and Quebec City in the next few days.
March 27, 2002 - Faith in their young. Catholics eye change
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
OTTAWA — As a young Catholic in Canada, Nicolas Fortin has often felt very much alone. The 20-year-old native of Quebec City hopes World Youth Day – when more than 450,000 Catholics aged 16-35 will meet in Toronto in July –will change all that.
“It will show the young Canadians they are not alone,” Fortin said, an organizer of an eight-day pilgrimage in Ontario and Quebec that stopped yesterday in Ottawa. “Young Catholics from all over the world showing we believe. We are not alone.” Fortin said he often felt there was little place for him at church where he was surrounded by “a sea of grey hair.”
He was at times frustrated in his efforts to get involved in church life where young people were relegated to lighting candles or cleaning up. “We hope (young people) will go back to church, but we hope the church will be open too,” Fortin said.
Ottawa’s Archbishop Marcel Gervais said there have not been leadership roles for young Catholics in “many a year.” “Youth have justifiably felt alienated,” Gervais said. “Everything in the church was geared to adults — our kind of music, our kind of values. Our concerns were largely adult concerns.” Already that is starting to change, Gervais said. About 100 young Catholics are responsible for summer events in Ottawa, which will host up to 25,000 delegates in the days leading up to the Toronto conference.
March 28, 2002 - New pride in the faith. Bishop wants legacy
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
MONTREAL — It is billed as World Youth Day. But the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said he hopes the conference’s legacy will flourish long after the 450,000 young delegates leave Toronto following the July 28 closing mass.
“This is an opportunity for them to affirm how they are proud of being Christians and Catholic,” said Bishop Jacques Berthelet, of the St-Jean-Longueuil parish on Montreal’s south shore. A group of 30 World Youth Day delegates, mostly from Italy, met with Berthelet yesterday as part of an eight-day pilgrimage to holy sites in Ontario and Quebec in preparation for this summer’s Catholic conference in Toronto that will attract several hundred thousand people. “Very often they don’t have an opportunity to express they are Catholic because they are isolated,” Berthelet said. “With the hundreds of the thousands of people, it will help them to feel a new pride and a new courage in affirming their faith,” he added.
Young couples will be among the delegates, aged 16-35 from more than 100 countries around the world, Berthelet said. “They really want to educate their children in their faith,” Berthelet said. “A few years ago the schools were taking care of this … Now the church with the parents have to take care of this education.”
The pilgrim group also stopped yesterday at the Kateri Tekakwitha shrine in Kahnawake, Quebec — named for a young Mohawk who converted to Christianity before her death at age 24 in 1680. Jacques Bruyere, a Jesuit priest who runs the Kateri Centre, said he had hoped Pope John Paul would announce the Tekakwitha’s canonization as a saint during World Youth Day in Toronto. Tekakwitha is a patron of World Youth Day and Bruyere said Christians often pray to her in illness or suffering.
“The Pope wrote it will not be during World Youth Day,” Bruyere said. “It was my big hope … She is a patron saint for everybody, but especially the youth.”
March 29, 2002 - Speechless. Montreal cathedral stuns Italian visitor
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
MONTREAL — Marco Franchin stood yesterday in the famed Notre-Dame Basilica, turning slowly to take in the church”s gothic architecture and colourful vaulted ceiling. But it was not this 3,500-seat sanctuary — where Quebec diva Celine Dion had her lavish wedding and opera star Luciano Pavarotti recorded a Christmas album — that left the 29-year-old Italian visitor “speechless.”
Franchin was impressed by the modest chapel adjoining the main sanctuary — decorated in pale wood with a 20-tonne bronze sculpture at the altar as its only adornment. The focus is right there and only there,” said Franchin, one of 30 visiting Catholics, mostly Italians, on a pilgrimage in Ontario and Quebec to promote World Youth Day.
“It was all that you needed. You don”t need the extra embellishment.” The group, which includes young Catholics from Argentina and Chile, has visited some of the country”s most historic religious sites in Midland, Ottawa and Montreal.
The visitors didn”t know each other before arriving in Toronto last weekend, but the group is already a close-knit one — bursting into song on the long bus rides and waging snowball fights at nearly every stop. Fabrizio Rebetto, 32, said he does not speak the same language as the South American visitors, but they have shared that universal language made up of smiles, simple words and prayers.
“Slowly I can see that there are good people here,” said Rebetto, who lives in Genoa. “I think between us we have a very powerful faith. That is a good thing.” The group travelled to Quebec City last night.
March 30, 2002 - Symbol of unity. WYD cross draws Catholics together
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
QUEBEC CITY — An ocean separated Marilena Chiocca yesterday from Good Friday celebrations with her family on the Italian island of Ischia.
‘I FEEL AT HOME’
But the 25-year-old student said she felt “at home” as she walked in a procession through the gritty streets of Old Quebec led by a group of young Catholics carrying the weather-beaten World Youth Day cross on their shoulders.
“I feel at home here and everywhere,” said Chiocca, one of 30 visiting Catholics, mostly Italian, on an eight-day pilgrimage in Ontario and Quebec for World Youth Day. “This cross is a symbol of unity,” she said. “It has been in many places. Many young people have adored this. We are all in this cross.”
The 31-kilo wooden cross — the “Olympic torch” for the gathering of young Catholics aged 16-35 in Toronto this July — has travelled more than 30,000 km across Canada since last April. In the past week alone, the cross has logged more than 1,500 km in Quebec.
“Everywhere the cross is presented, (there’s) silence. Some young people reflect, ‘I can touch the cross, I can touch my faith,'” said Father Julien Guillot, a priest with the Quebec archdiocese, who will bring 3,000 delegates to Toronto this summer.
“Usually in Quebec we say young adults are not in church so they are not believers. It’s not the reality.” Surrounded by more than 150 people in the procession, Italy’s Elena Casini, 25, said this was a very special holiday for her.
‘HOPE FOR FUTURE’
“I’m on the other side of the world. I’m with people I’ve never been with before,” Casini said. “We all celebrate differently. The most important thing is we are all together. We’re praying for the same thing — hope for the future.”
March 31, 2002 - Spirit of Youth Day Brought to Nuns
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
BAIE-SAINT-PAUL, QUEBEC — Sister Doris Lamontagne has travelled the globe for World Youth Day. Yesterday, World Youth Day came home to Lamontagne. A group of 30 young Catholics — mostly Italians — visited the Little Franciscans of Mary, an hour east of Quebec City, where they laughed, sang and prayed with the older nuns.
“I felt the atmosphere of World Youth Day,” said Lamontagne, a nun for 20 years who has travelled to Manila, Paris and Rome to attend the gathering of young Catholics, which takes place every two or three years.
“I’ve shared the experience with the sisters, but it’s never really close to them. It allowed them to be close to what happens. … To see the youth, it’s refreshing.” The young Catholics — from Italy, Chile and Argentina — are finishing an eight-day pilgrimage to holy sites in Quebec and Ontario to promote World Youth Day. Previous World Youth Days in Rome and Paris drew crowds in the millions. Lamontagne said the Toronto event will likely be more intimate.
Father Tom Rosica, CEO and national director of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, said these are “historic times” in the church, which has been battered by scandal. “One may wonder whether the boat is going under,” Rosica said. “This is not the story of the Titanic. The church is not going down.”
March 31, 2002 - Catholics high on Toronto
By Sarah Green, Toronto Sun
QUEBEC CITY — An international delegation of Catholics is heading home today to spread the word about Toronto’s upcoming Catholic “Woodstock.” The delegation has been touring eastern Canada for the past week to promote this summer’s World Youth Day conference from July 23-28, in Toronto. The event will attract up to 450,000 young Catholics from around the world, as well as a papal visit attracting up to 1 million, making it the largest such gathering in Toronto’s history.
Delegates said they will deliver a message about Canadian hospitality to the young people of their homelands, assuring them that they will be welcome when they come to Toronto for the conference.
Ariel Ybarra, 22, a tourism student from Buenos Aires, Argentina, said he will remember the hospitality of the Canadians who hosted the young visitors at seminaries and retreat houses during their 2,600-km journey to explore Canada’s religious roots. “It’s the kindness of the people we met,” said Ybarra. “Even if they didn’t speak your language, you can see in their faces they want to help you.”
TOUR SURPASSES EXPECTATIONS
Rev. Tom Rosica, national director and CEO of Toronto’s World Youth Day, called the promotional tour “a very historic journey” because of the effect it had on the participants.
“It surpassed anything I expected,” he said. News reports during the week about Pope John Paul’s faltering health caused some to worry about the ailing pontiff, who started World Youth Day in 1986. But Ybarra wondered how much of the concern over the Pope was driven by headlines. “I know he wants to come. I really pray to God he will be able to come,” said Ybarra, who went to World Youth Day in Paris and Rome in 1997 and 2000.
March 31, 2002 - Holy Week began with Pope
Special to The Sun
QUEBEC CITY — The events and celebrations of Holy Week took on a whole new meaning and dimension for me this year in light of the World Youth Day. It all began in St. Peter”s Square at the Vatican on March 21, at sundown, in a throng of 25,000 exuberant young people, 18 of us from Canada, and Pope John Paul.
The sunset cast its long shadows over the Vatican Basilica as two Canadians from Alberta, Janelle Reinhart and Stephane Aubin, led the crowd in singing the World Youth Day 2002 song Light of the World/Lumiere du monde as the Pope entered the square. The rally consisted of songs, personal witness and a papal address and featured the moving testimonies of Canadians Erica and Brennan Basnicki who spoke of the death of their father, Ken, in the Sept. 11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
One could hear a pin drop in St. Peter”s as the eyes of every young person, bishop, cardinal and even the Pope were fixed on the Basnicki siblings. When they finished, I took them over to the Pope and the three embraced and shared some words of comfort and hope. The Holy Father was just as moved as the Basnickis were.
Night had now fallen on Rome and suddenly a troupe of inline skaters, dressed in light colours and bearing lit torches, skated out from behind the papal stage and bowed in front of the Pope before skating wildly down the steps into the crowd.
They glided along the barriers that had been set up to control the crowds and started lighting hundreds of little candles held by participants in the rally. Suddenly St. Peter”s was filled with a sea of tiny flickering lights. The old, frail Pope was beaming and smiling.
At the end of the nearly two-hour ceremony, Pope John Paul asked two groups of young people seated on the stage near him to stand. One was a group of 20 Italians who would leave the next morning for Jerusalem, nbso reviews to spend Holy Week with their Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, on a mission of peace and prayer to a Holy Land torn asunder by violence and hatred.
The other group consisted of 25 Italians and 10 Canadians departing the following morning with me for Canada, in order to begin a “Roving Retreat,” to pray at the places where World Youth Day will unfold in three months. We were joined in Canada by young people from Chile, Argentina, France, Spain, Germany, Cuba and Poland. On the eve of Palm Sunday, this roving delegation of 55 people began reflections together in a cavernous hall in Pickering along with 1,800 others who had come to hear the World Youth Day choir of 400 voices and the Sacred Music Society perform Handel”s Messiah.
On Palm Sunday morning, we gathered for early prayers in the middle of Exhibition Place, where World Youth Day 2002 will be headquartered. Over the past week, we prayed at Downsview Park, the site of the papal vigil and mass, continued on to Midland to spend a day at the Jesuit Martyrs” Shrine, and then on to Ottawa.
We visited the shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha on the First Nations Reserve in Kahnawake, Que. Tekakwitha, a young Mohawk who converted to Christianity before her death at age 24 in 1680, is a patron of World Youth Day.
Other appointments during the week included mass in Montreal”s Cathedral with Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte and the mass of Holy Thursday in the Shrine of Cap-de-la-Madeleine in Trois Rivieres. Good Friday brought us to Quebec City for a moving celebration of the death of the Lord in the Quebec Cathedral. That evening, we took part in a nationally televised stations of the cross through the streets of Quebec.
Last night”s Easter Vigil was celebrated in the magnificent basilica of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre on the St. Lawrence River. This morning we are celebrating mass in a parish church in the countryside not far from Quebec City.
A moving Holy Week indeed in Canada. This retreat has carried the light of the risen Christ from Rome to Canada, to start the great blaze of World Youth Day 2002.
April 7, 2002 - World Youth Day's Past Is Inspiring; Spirit Permeats Host Nations
Special to The Sun
QUEBEC CITY — The events and celebrations of Holy Week took on a whole new meaning and dimension for me this year in light of the World Youth Day. It all began in St. Peter”s Square at the Vatican on March 21, at sundown, in a throng of 25,000 exuberant young people, 18 of us from Canada, and Pope John Paul.
The countdown has begun for World Youth Day 2002, which will be held in three short months from July 18-28 in Canada. Pope John Paul II”s celebration of the life and faith of young people from all over the world who gather together to celebrate their Catholic Christian faith, was born during the Holy Year of Redemption in 1984 in Rome.
The most recent experiences of World Youth Days in Denver, Manila, Paris and Rome are living proof of this great hope and new evangelization, that have been at the heart of the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
With every World Youth Day, an entire nation and its people are touched by the grace of God, the faith, joy and exuberance of young people, the extraordinary experiences of goodness and generosity that invade the host city and country. At the closing mass of World Youth Day in Rome, on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2000, minutes before the Holy Father announced Toronto as the site of the next World Youth Day, Pope John Paul addressed that “apocalyptic” crowd of nearly 2 million young people from throughout the world with these words:
“Thank God for the World Youth Days! Thanks be to God for all the young people who have been involved in them in the past 16 years! Many of them are now adults who continue to live their faith in their homes and work places.
A WORLD ABLAZE
“I am sure, dear friends, that you too will be as good as those who preceded you. You will carry the proclamation of Christ into the new millennium. When you return home, do not grow lax. Reinforce and deepen your bond with the Christian communities to which you belong. From Rome, from the City of Peter and Paul, the Pope follows you with affection and, paraphrasing Saint Catherine of Siena”s words, reminds you: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
Those of us who experienced those unforgettable days of August 2000 and who are now entrusted with the massive organization of World Youth Day 2002 have discovered the excitement, exhilaration and generosity of hundreds of thousands of people across Canada and from many countries of the world for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.
One person who has certainly been best on fire with the World Youth Day spirit is Joe Pulla, president of JohnVince Foods, the largest import-export company distributing across Canada. JohnVince Foods is one of the major sponsors of World Youth Day 2002, and this past week I had the privilege of celebrating mass at the centre of their 300,000-sq.-ft. factory near Downsview Park.
JohnVince processes all kinds of nuts, including the famed Planters Peanuts Canada. At noon last Tuesday, all the ovens and conveyor belts stopped and an altar was set up before 250-plus employees. We prayed especially for the peace of Israel and Palestine and for young people living in the Middle East.
Many attending the mass were not Catholic, and all joined in a rather remarkable celebration in a most unlikely place. Joe Pulla, an outstanding young Catholic summed it up best: “Thank God that World Youth Day was the instrument that brought us all together in the glow of Easter. World Youth Day represents the new life that our world so badly needs today.”
Joe Pulla knows what lies at the heart of World Youth Day. And hundreds of others like him know it too. No matter what your faith or religious convictions, I invite you to help us ignite the great blaze of charity, generosity, openness, hospitality and faith that has come to be known as World Youth Day.
Be generous in offering hospitality to the young people of the world who are finalizing their preparations for Toronto 2002. If you would like to host two or three young people in your home this July, please contact your nearest Catholic parish church or phone the WYD info line: 416-913-2080.
We need all the help and kindness we can get! Throughout these final months and weeks of preparation, follow Joe Pulla”s example. Open the doors of your hearts and homes to goodness, joy and hope that the world so badly needs these days!
© 2002 The Toronto Sun. All rights reserved.
April 15, 2002 - Wooden crosses a symbol of good
Special to The Sun
MEDELLIN, Colombia — This past Friday morning I woke up to the sound of Light of the World, the World Youth Day 2002 song, being played loudly on speakers attached to the church steeple in the barrio of Blanquizal on the outskirts of this South American city.
It's a long way from World Youth Day headquarters in Toronto, but a very important part of World Youth Day 2002 is being prepared right here in this barrio, in one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of what many called the world”s most heavily-armed city — Medellin.
Following early morning prayers with three Basilian Fathers who have been working in this mission area for the past few years, Father Roberto Seguin, the pastor, took me over to the workshop next door to the small church. We crossed over open sewage flowing down the small street and entered what looked like an abandoned set of houses that in fact had been turned into a carpentry shop for World Youth Day.
There, amidst extraordinary poverty, I witnessed about 25 young people busily cutting small wooden crosses, sanding and painting them and then with the use of candles, attaching small brown strings around them.
Over the past six months, the Basilian Fathers, through the generous assistance of a grant provided by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace to World Youth Day 2002, have established this workshop. It employs 40 families both here in Medellin and in another workshop in Bogota to make the 400,000-plus wooden crosses that the Pope will give to each young person attending the World Youth Day in July in Toronto.
Earlier in the week, I visited the other workshop in an extremely poor and dangerous area of Bogota called Barrio Egipto, perched high above Colombia”s capital. Accompanied by a young Colombian Basilian scholastic, Pedro Mora Medina, we entered what seemed to be an abandoned set of warehouses only to be surprised by another 15 people — young teenagers and some of their parents, who had the crosses strung between trees waiting for them to dry.
When I entered, people stopped their work and surrounded me. One woman put a cross around my neck and thanked me for providing work for her family and tuition for her children to attend school. Another woman, whose husband had recently been murdered in this terribly complex and war-torn land, embraced me and asked me to remember her two sons when seeing the Pope this summer.
We could have chosen many places to have these crosses made — and they certainly could have been made by machines in mass production. But World Youth Day 2002 chose to have the crosses made in a land that has had its share of the cross over the past years.
When I met with the president of the Conference of Bishops of Colombia at his Bogota offices last week, the remarkably peaceful Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo was surrounded by 14 armed soldiers who are protecting him day and night.
On March 16, Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino of Cali was murdered by guerrilla forces on a Saturday evening, just after celebrating several marriages in a parish church. Archbishop Duarte, hailed as a martyr for justice and peace, is the second bishop murdered in 10 years. The Colombian Conference of Bishops told me that since 1999, 26 priests and one sister have been murdered, 36 Protestant ministers have been gunned down, and last year alone, more than 30,000 people were killed in the ongoing war in this country. Thousands more have been killed this year alone.
But murder and death are not the only things happening in Colombia. In two small carpentry workshops I witnessed joy, excitement and hope as young hands formed and fashioned small wooden crosses for the Pope and the young people of the world. Because we follow a crucified Christ, we enter into solidarity with the world”s suffering masses. We experience the power and love of God through the vulnerable and suffering. The cross teaches us that what could have remained hideous and beyond remembrance is transformed into beauty, hope and a continuous call to heroic goodness. That is what I experienced in Colombia this past week.
April 21, 2002 - Time to take a good vocation
Special to The Sun
When World Youth Day takes over Exhibition Place from July 21-28, one of the major pavilions of the week-long international festival will be completely dedicated to vocations. This will be the first time in the history of World Youth Days that such a massive effort will be made to promote vocations to marriage, the single life, the life of a deacon, consecrated life, priesthood and lay service organizations. The vocation exhibit area, headed by Jesuit Father Len Altilia and an international team of religious women and men, will offer Internet cafes, displays and discussions accenting ways to serve the Lord and others.
Vocation guides will be available to answer questions and offer advice on how to discern God”s call. Canadian young people between 16 and 35 have been invited to create posters on the theme of vocations. The posters will highlight the many ways to follow the call to serve Christ by lives of witness and service, especially in ordained ministry and consecrated life. God knows how much we need to hear good news about vocations during these days when the Church is hurting from the lack of new candidates to priesthood and religious life and suffering collectively from the recent scandals that have been devastating to so many people.
That is why I would like to tell you about a very important bridge between World Youth Day and a major world church event that concludes later this evening in Montreal. Over the past four days, more than 1,100 religious leaders from Latin America, the United States and Canada have been meeting in Montreal for the third continental congress of vocations.
In these uncertain times for many in the church, the spirit of the vocations congress has been one of great hope, renewed commitments and energies to attract young women and men to permanent commitment in the church today.
The objective of the congress, sponsored jointly by the Vatican and the American and Canadian Conferences of Bishops, is to build a positive environment in North America for promoting vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life; unifying and guiding the church in North America in its commitment to identify, discern and nurture vocations; and welcoming future workers to the harvest.
On Friday morning, the first keynote address was delivered by renowned scripture scholar and American Passionist Father Donald Senior, president of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. His magnificent address to the overflow crowd of vocation leaders, bishops and nbso online reviews lay people present at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel applied not only to the immediate situation of vocations, but could also be easily related to the mission of World Youth Day 2002.
Message of hope
He reminded the audience that the Bible tells us the story of God”s mercy and light shining through moments of humanity of the first disciples and apostles at the beginning of the Christian story. Father Senior said: “The gospels portray the disciples at their worst: moments of desertion, denial and betrayal of their lord and master. “Nevertheless, God used such weak and frail individuals as clay vessels to reach out to others, to bring the world a message of hope and to remind us who we truly are and to whom we truly belong. “God”s embrace of a human church, of a community of fallible disciples or “learners” as the term implies, is a glory of the biblical and church heritage and one we need to remember now in our pastoral strategies for vocations with young people.”
As I listened to Father Senior, I could not help but think of the great meetings that will happen at World Youth Day with so many young people gathered together to celebrate their faith and look toward their own futures.
The vocations congress will end later this evening with a mass in Montreal”s historic Notre Dame Basilica around the World Youth Day cross that arrived in Montreal on Friday afternoon. At least 100 young adults invited from across the continent will participate in the concluding ceremony. What better way to end the congress gathered around the cross in prayer.
May 5, 2002 - Pilgrims to help out across the GTA
Special to The Sun
An exciting innovation of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto will allow young pilgrims from throughout the world to take part in social service activities that will provide a vivid demonstration of our living faith to the people of Toronto and the world.
The social service projects, which will take place throughout the Toronto region during the week starting July 22, will certainly be the enduring legacy of World Youth Day 2002. While the social service projects are optional, all World Youth Day pilgrims will be encouraged to participate in these worthwhile activities.
Projects will be offered on the afternoons of Wednesday, July 24, and Friday, July 26, between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Activities will be focused around Exhibition Place and the downtown core, but other service projects will be taking place throughout the GTA.
Direct service projects are an opportunity to put our faith into action. A foundation of Catholic social teaching is the preferential option for the poor, which requires our acceptance of the burdens of others as our own. In encouraging young people attending World Youth Day to become involved in these direct service projects, we demonstrate that as Catholics we are called by Christ to aid all those in need.
The direct service projects cover a diverse range of agencies and tasks, demonstrating that the need for service exists in a greater number of places than some might expect.
The Habitat for Humanity build at the Downsview site is one of our larger direct service projects, providing a chance for approximately 500 young people to assist in constructing a house that will enable a local family to move out of poverty housing. In order to complete the build in time for the papal vigil on July 27, the Habitat project will be a “24-hour build” — building 24 hours a day for five days.
Other projects include a tree-planting initiative in the Parkdale area of Toronto, assisting inner-city children in church-run day camps, and a comprehensive plan to involve many young people in visiting seniors in the city”s many retirement and nursing homes.
Seminars and discussion groups will provide an opportunity to explore the issues of social justice that shape our service needs. These discussions will range from large-scale talks from speakers such as Millard Fuller (founder of Habitat for Humanity) and Jean Vanier (founder of L”Arche) to attending a seminar on how to link global justice concerns with local service activities.
Site tours will consist of visits to local service agencies to learn what they do on a day-to-day basis. This is an opportunity for agencies that are not able to provide appropriate direct service activities for pilgrims but would still like to be involved in educating young people about their programs.
These tours also provide a link between the direct service projects and the more theoretical discussions of the seminar program. We expect approximately 150,000 pilgrims to take part in these projects, which translates into 450,000 hours of service in the city over the course of two days!
The success of any World Youth Day depends a great deal on the generosity and goodwill of its hosts. The people of Toronto have graciously offered to open their homes and share their time and expertise with the World Youth Day participants. The work that will be done throughout the city as part of the service projects is one way of thanking them for their warm welcome and unfailing support of this endeavor.
While she was still alive, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a great believer in and supporter of World Youth Days. She remarked once that these large gatherings had power to change the world. Some words of Mother Teresa summarize best what we hope to accomplish through the Service Projects of World Youth Day 2002:
The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.
This new dimension of Canada”s World Youth Day will be an instrument of peace in our broken and divided world.
May 12, 2002 - Cross on its way to T.O.
VATICAN CITY — Standing in St. Peter”s Square late Friday, I could not help but remember the magnificent Palm Sunday ceremony of April 8, 2001, when a delegation of 70 from Canada were present, representing 35 dioceses of our country.
During that moving mass, as we stood before Pope John Paul, we formally received the World Youth Day Cross from the Italian delegation who had hosted the previous World Youth Day in 2000.
Thus began the epic journey of the simple 12-foot wooden cross from Rome to Canada. Earlier last year, at a prayer vigil with university students at the Vatican and young people in Toronto, the Pope spoke to the young people gathered at the Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre in Toronto via a satellite television link: “In receiving this Cross, you will also accept the heritage of the Great Jubilee. With creativity and enthusiasm, may you find new ways to lead the young people of the world, and especially your fellow university students, to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ, the one redeemer of humanity.”
Over the past 13 months, this cross has travelled 40,000 km by every possible means of transportation. It has been touched and embraced by millions of people in Canada alone. But the most significant leg of the journey to Toronto began two weeks ago today at a ceremony in Montreal”s Cathedral of Marie, Reine du Monde.
After a week in the Montreal archdiocese, French Canada”s Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte entrusted the cross to a group of 19 “portageurs” at the end of the mass with the words: “Ask God to give you strength, courage and patience.”
The cardinal then asked me to address the young people and I told them: “You would face difficulties and fatigue along the journey. But you are doing something prophetic, something counter-cultural, something ancient, yet always new.”
The mood in the cathedral was “electric.” As the procession made its way down the central aisle of the packed building, the cardinal suddenly handed his pastoral staff to an assistant and joined the portageurs, carrying the cross with them. The entire congregation burst into applause as we sang the World Youth Day hymn Light of the World/Lumiere du monde.
On the front steps of the cathedral, several hundred people were waiting to touch the cross and bid farewell to this group of portageurs who began to carry the cross on a 543-km pilgrimage on foot to Toronto. The 19 portageurs volunteered for the job and paid $650 to cover their costs on the journey. They come from Ottawa, Ste-Foy, Montreal, Lasalle, Sherbrooke, Oakville, Belleville, Waterloo, Toronto, Milverton, Belleville, Brampton, and St. Catharines.
Their journey will be exactly 43 days, recalling the portages of First Nations peoples and early Canadian missionaries. The leader of the modern-day portageurs is Sebastien Lacroix, a 22-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., who has coordinated the pilgrimage across the country. This small, thin man is a tower of inspiration to hundreds of people across this land, and especially to me and the national staff at World Youth Day 2002. I phone him at the end of each day, now that he is on the road with the cross. I ask him: “How many kilometres today? How was the weather? Any problems? What were the highlights.” And the answer inevitably comes back: “Mon pere, c”est extraordinaire … c”est incroyable.”
It”s a remarkable story of graces and blessings all along the journey as the 19, including Shawn Meeks, who”s blind, walk an average of 15 km a day and take Sunday as a day of rest. They”ll carry the 31-kilo cross along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, passing through Montreal, Kahnawake, Melocheville, Valleyfield, Lancaster, Glen Walter, Cornwall, Long Sault, Morrisburg, Prescott, Brockville, Brown”s Bay, Rockport, Ganonoque, Howe Island, Kingston, Amherstview, Bath, Napanee, Marysville, Belleville, Trenton, Brighton, Grafton, Cobourg, Port Hope, Newcastle, Bowmanville, Townline, Oshawa, Pickering, Scarborough.
Along the way they will dine with bishops and farmers, overnighting with folks who have opened their homes and towns that have opened their schools to the group at the end of the long days. The portageurs will arrive at St. Michael”s Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, June 9, where English Canada”s Cardinal, Aloysius Ambrozic will welcome the Cross to the host diocese for World Youth Day.
From that evening until the start of celebrations in July, the cross will begin its pilgrimage throughout this vast Archdiocese, in a program arranged by the Toronto Archdiocese”s Office of Catholic Youth and the World Youth Day team.
Clear your calendars for that Sunday afternoon June 9! Come and experience the creativity and enthusiasm that have inspired Sebastien and his friends to lead the young people of Canada to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ. Come and welcome home the Portageurs and their old wooden cross!
May 19, 2002 - Holy Spirit shines through WYD 2002
VATICAN CITY — Today is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church. The first Christian Pentecost reported in the Acts of the Apostles coincided with the great annual festival which gathered Jews from all over, celebrating the unceasing gift of the annual harvest and the reception of the Torah (Hag matan Torah) on Mount Sinai.
Crowds, excitement, a flurry of languages, a new beginning: These impressions come to mind when we reflect on that first Pentecost, that momentous event when the nations of the earth paused from their customary strife and experienced the loving unity of God.
As World Youth Day 2002 begins to sweep across our land, the church in Canada is experiencing a new Pentecost. Throngs of young people from all over the world will soon be gathering in public places as they conclude their pilgrimage in Toronto for great celebrations with the holy father.
The myriad of faces, languages, races, cultures, the many expressions of prayer and boundless joy are vivid signs of God”s Spirit poured out once again on the young people of the world. The whole church, and Toronto in particular, will become the new “upper room.”
Why have young people responded to Pope John Paul”s invitation to come to Toronto to celebrate the 17th WYD? Why has the World Youth Day Cross had such a profound impact on hundreds of thousands over the past year? How can we explain this tremendous sense of unity and peace that is coming over all of us — the young and the young at heart?
I think there are five ways that the Holy Spirit has been at work in us as we go about the final preparations for WYD.
Jesus at centre
First, there has been the very clear and unambiguous proclamation of Jesus Christ as the heart of WYD 2002: The radiant, ever-youthful person of Christ who reveals himself to his young disciples and to the church as Lord, Redeemer, Master, Saviour and demanding friend. It is Christ whom the young seek. It is Christ who will never let them down.
The Spirit's mighty presence at WYD is also revealed by convocation: The large gathering, the huge numbers, the great call. In the New Testament, Jesus is present with the crowds at the multiplication of the loaves and teaching on the mount of the beatitudes. Jesus speaks in the parables of wedding feasts and banquets, showing that salvation is offered to everyone.
At WYD, the good news is alive with excitement: Everyone is invited to this feast!
The third way the Holy Spirit acts among us is by attraction. The first community of Jerusalem, even before sending out missionaries, saw crowds from the neighbouring cities stream in because they had heard the good news. There is something unique, different, about these Christians: They actually love one another. Goodness, authenticity and joy cannot help but inspire and attract others.
The Spirit is also at work by what we may call the contagion factor. It is similar to the previous way — attraction — but it explains how one smile generates another, one tiny candle shatters our darkness, one act of hospitality and kindness calls forth more of the same from others. The word will spread, and we have no control over it. Jesus came to light a great fire in the world, and WYD is proof of that blaze.
The fifth way that the Spirit is at work is by cultivation.
This is a more difficult, long-term activity because it requires time, patience and prayer. It is slow and hidden, like the yeast used in making bread, like the seed sown with care and hope.
Through this WYD we are sowing seeds, planting desires, allowing people to dream, helping young people to meet the Lord, to love him and serve him each day of their life. At WYD, young people are invited to be agents of justice, hope, dialogue and peace in the world.
WYD is a truly catholic, Pentecost experience. It is universal. It is open to the world — not only to North Americans, not only to a certain segment of Canadian society, but to every single person. We become an evangelizing, Spirit-filled church when we allow the Spirit to bless us with holiness, joy, peace, vision and creativity.
Touched by the Spirit and by WYD 2002, the Canadian church will never be the same once the event is over. When the Spirit dwells within us, we are filled with creativity and imagination. God knows how much we need both of those gifts in the church today! Long ago, the prophet Joel spoke powerfully: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17).
What fitting words to describe what we are all experiencing as the Spirit is poured out so lavishly upon us through WYD 2002!
May 26, 2002 - Holy role models
PARIS — In his message to the youth of the world for the 17th World Youth Day 2002 in Canada, Pope John Paul II writes: “Just as salt gives flavour to food and light illumines the darkness, so too holiness gives full meaning to life and makes it reflect God”s glory. How many saints, especially young saints, can we count in the Church”s history!
“In their love for God their heroic virtues shone before the world, and so they became models of life which the Church has held up for imitation by all. Let us remember only a few of them: Agnes of Rome, Andrew of Phu Yen, Pedro Calungsod, Josephine Bakhita, Therese of Lisieux, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Marcel Callo, Francisco Castello Aleu or again Kateri Tekakwitha, the young Iroquois called “the Lily of the Mohawks.”
“Through the intercession of this great host of witnesses, may God make you too, dear young people, the saints of the third millennium!”
The Pope lists a rather remarkable array of saints and blesseds, representing the world — Italy, France, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sudan, Spain and North America — and offers them to the young people of the world as the patrons or heroes and heroines of this summer”s international gathering of young people set for Toronto from July 23-28.
Over the past 24 years Pope John Paul has achieved unprecedented feats and one of them without a doubt is the fact that he has raised a total of 461 saints to the altar. To these must be added 1,291 beatifications, including the three done in Bulgaria this past week.
The last 500 years
The Pope has proclaimed more than half the blesseds and saints recognized in the history of the Catholic Church. He has canonized more people than all his predecessors of the last 500 years combined, viewing sainthood as a way to highlight role models for Catholics and bring recognition to the Church in different countries.
Why does World Youth Day need such patrons?
When the Church celebrates her blesseds and saints, it is a feast of artists, gospel artists, who have judged and critiqued the world from a different set of data, information and knowledge than what the world is used to. Their standards were found in a blueprint entitled The Beatitudes, and they attempted, each in their own time and unique ways, to take that extraordinary gospel vision and transpose it on the world. G. K. Chesterton said that “[such] people have exaggerated what the world and the Church have forgotten.”
Sometimes in the world in which we live such people are called mad, unrealistic, dreamers. In our Church, we call them saints and I am convinced that young people have an increasing need for the lives of the saints. Since I am in France this weekend participating in the final event to send young people to World Youth Day, I cannot help but think of one patron from this country who is an important patron of World Youth Day.
The world and particularly young people need the sterling examples of women and men who enter cloisters, not to be shut off from the world, but rather to embrace the world with love, prayer and a true missionary spirit as evidenced in the life of the “Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897).
Why did nearly two million people flock to see her relics as they journeyed throughout Canada last fall? Beatified in April 1923, she was canonized two years later on May 17, 1925. During World Youth Day 1997 in Paris, Pope John Paul announced his intention to proclaim St. Therese of Lisieux a doctor of the Church later that year.
As the third female doctor of the Church, she joined Sts. Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena who were proclaimed in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. Until then, there were 32 doctors of the Church, all of them men.
In the last days of her short life, as she lay dying of tuberculosis, she was tempted to commit suicide and confessed her surprise that more people in pain and distress do not destroy themselves, especially if they do not believe in God. We need someone in whom we can see ourselves, with our human weakness and all the anxiety and panic attacks that many of us endure. Doctor Therese speaks to us in the here and now of this awesome moment in history. She struggled with so many of the same questions people struggle with today.
In weeks to come I will tell you about the other heroes and heroines of World Youth Day 2002.
June 2, 2002 - Ancient art of faith, hope: ROM exhibition of masterpieces
During his meeting with religious, cultural and political leaders in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 22, Pope John Paul spoke eloquently about the indispensable contribution of the world of culture and art as an antidote to the present crisis of identity that impels some people to opt for fundamentalism and violence. The Pontiff said: “Beauty, as you know, is the light of the spirit. The soul, when it is calm and reconciled, when it lives in harmony with God and the universe, emits a light that is already a kind of beauty…” The Pope concluded his address stating that “our present challenge consists in transmitting a taste for beauty,” adding that “as the ancients teach us, beauty, truth and goodness are united by an indissoluble bond.”
This Saturday, the most cultural dimension of World Youth Day 2002 will be inaugurated in the Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and will continue until Aug. 11.
The ROM is the only venue in the world to host this exclusive show of religious art accompanying Toronto”s World Youth Day. Extraordinary paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects, including works by some of the Western world”s greatest artists, will chronicle the birth, origins and history of the Catholic Church. It”s an impressive new art exhibition consisting of more than 100 masterpieces from the Vatican Museums, the Italian Ecclesiastical Museums and other private Italian collections.
The exhibition “Images of Salvation” features magnificent art and artifacts inspired by the Christian faith, dating from the medieval period to the 20th century. Among the artistic masterpieces on display will be Michelangelo”s early drawings for the Sistine Chapel, paintings by masters Guido Reni, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri and Lorenzo Lotto, exquisite tapestries by the school of Raphael and Rubens, and sculptures by Bernini.
This unique exhibition is organized by the Youth-Church-Hope Foundation of the Pontifical Council of the Laity on the occasion of the XVII World Youth Day in collaboration with the ROM. The principal sponsor of the exhibit is Hydro One. This exhibition opens up World Youth Day to the greater community. I am convinced more than ever that our contemporary world is deprived of art and beauty and in many places has lost the taste and experience of salvation. The opposite of that beauty and salvation is darkness, conflict and fear that we have experienced in no small way over the past months.
World Youth Day is about peace, dialogue, light. The theme of our World Youth Day sends us forth with a special mission to be salt of the earth – entering situations which are tasteless and adding the flavour of the Beatitudes. This art exhibition at the heart of World Youth Day offers Canada, Ontario and Toronto a real experience of the light, hope and peace for which the world longs at present.
People like Eleanor Clitheroe, president and CEO of Hydro One, William Thorsell, president and CEO of the ROM, Meg Beckel and Seema Bharadia of the ROM, Dr. Marcello Bedeschi, professors Giovanni Morello and Angelo Molfetta of the Vatican, and many of the national staff of World Youth Day 2002 have added a wonderful flavour and light to Toronto through their support of this exhibition. Thanks to each of them and so many others who have made “Images of Salvation” possible.
Speaking of art and beauty, let us take a look at another of World Youth Day”s patrons: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, [1901-1925] whom Pope John Paul II has called the “Man of the Eight Beatitudes.” He was born at the turn of the last century in Turin, Italy, the son of a wealthy family of high society. As a young man who had everything — money, good looks, intelligence, friends, he opted to spend most of his time with the poor.
Just before receiving his university degree in mining engineering, he contracted polio, which doctors later speculated he caught from the sick for whom he cared. He died suddenly at age 24. Many young people see in Pier Giorgio a call to heroic greatness and holiness. They find in him a young man who was salt of the earth and light of the world in his day. What a great model for World Youth Day 2002!
June 9, 2002 - A week for feeding the masses
Friday evening seemed like a biblical scene of the feeding of the multitudes unfolding in Queen's Park.
Following a festive mass in nearby St. Basil”s Church presided by His Eminence, James Francis Cardinal Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pope”s agent for World Youth Day, the assembly of nearly 800 young people walked down St. Joseph St. to Queen”s Park for dinner.
Tents had been set up by Compass Food Group, the official caterers for World Youth Day 2002, and within minutes leaders of groups of six persons went quickly through lines to pick up neatly packaged meals for six.
Throughout the park, one could see small clusters of six people sharing a piping hot pasta and vegetable meal served with a dinner roll, salad, cheese and an apple for dessert.
It was much like the orderly feeding of a multitude on a Galilean hillside nearly two millennia ago. Unlike the New Testament stories, I didn”t stay around to pick up the fragments, and I doubt that there would have been any given the age of the hearty eaters and the excellent quality of the meal. This was a scene that will be played out on a much grander scale when World Youth Day comes to Toronto next month.
Some of the most frequent questions I am asked about World Youth Day is, “How will you ever be able to feed so many young people at one time? How much food do you need? Where will they eat?” Such questions are certainly not foreign to our friends at Compass. Based on a projected attendance of nearly 350,000 young delegates and guests for lunch and supper at the peak of the summer youth festival, Compass predicts there will be nearly 3.5 million meals served during the week.
Dry fruit mix
We will need 2.6 million 500-millilitre bottles of water and two million individual packets of salt. (After all, the theme is “You are the salt of the earth!”). Our culinary strategists tell us that the young people will consume 1.5 million apples as well as one million panini buns. Can you fathom 200,000 single-serving cans of tuna fish or 200,000 packets of dry fruit mix?
Who will be making nearly 200,000 turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches or feast of 134,000 pounds of ham and sausage jambalaya?
And then there is the sheer size of the food operations at Exhibition Place and Downsview Park, where lunch and dinner will be served each day to the multitude. Some 160,000 sq. ft. of tents will act as serving stations, with each tent serving 15,000 meals. World Youth Day will need 3,500 volunteers to work with 700 food service managers.
At the end of the meals, we will need 320 garbage bins in the food service pavilions to help keep the areas tidy.
Compass is the country”s largest event catering firm, operating food services in business and industry, leisure, remote camp, education and healthcare markets. The best example of how Compass is experienced in feeding the world”s different tastes and cultures was at the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, where they were the official caterer. (Compass has also catered the Superbowl, U.S. Tennis Open, PGA Tour, Ryder Cup, Grammy Awards, NBA All-Star Games, NHL All-Star Games and U.S. Presidential Inaugural Ball.)
All of Compass' menus are constructed after careful research with international chefs and after careful consideration to cultures worldwide. Each food service pavilion at the event will be staffed by Compass management and associates, with help from over 3,000 volunteers (100 per pavilion).
The young delegates to World Youth Day 2002 are certainly in for a culinary treat. Each day, the pilgrims will have their breakfast either in the families with whom they are lodged, or in the school building where they are sleeping. Lunch and dinner will be served each day at Exhibition Place and at Downsview Park on the weekend of July 27-28.
June 16, 2002 - World Youth Day a labour of love
Last Sunday as I watched the procession of young people and the World Youth Day cross winding through Toronto to their “triumphant” arrival at the rally in front of St. Michael”s Cathedral, I thought not of the English version of O Canada, but the French version of our anthem. And the words “Car ton bras sait porter l'epee, Il sait porter la croix ...” jumped out at me. For that is exactly what the past 14 months have taught us all: Canada knows how to carry the cross.
From sea to sea to sea, Canadians have carried the simple wooden World Youth Day cross in every possible fashion, and more than any other aspect of World Youth Day, the battered wooden cross gives us an insight into the national dimension of World Youth Day 2002 that has now arrived in Toronto. This is a good way to speak about the unprecedented support that World Youth Day 2002 has received from the Canadian people, and from the government of Canada.
The federal government is one of three levels of government, along with the province of Ontario and the City of Toronto, to lend its support and massive infrastructure to WYD 2002. Ottawa has understood and embraced the unique opportunity presented by WYD 2002. In a world torn by hatred, ethnic strife, terrorism, darkness and war, WYD”s message is one of hope, light, and peace. It has offered the Canadian government a unique opportunity to let the world know that we are a people animated by the core values and principles of respect, nbso reviews tolerance and peace in a multicultural and multireligious society.
The “Days in the Diocese” component of WYD 2002 will help young Canadians and our First Nations youth to strengthen their sense of national identity as they reach out to others. The church and World Youth Day are very grateful for the support the government of Canada has so visibly demonstrated to WYD. Through the dynamic leadership of Toronto MP Dennis Mills, appointed by the prime minister to act as the federal representative to WYD, we have had visible expressions of support across all party lines.
Fourteen federal departments and over 200 federal civil servants are involved in WYD, carrying out mandates related to security, public health and border issues to name but a few. The minister of foreign affairs chose a senior career diplomat, Anne Leahy, to spearhead the WYD secretariats. As Canada”s former ambassador to Russia and Poland, Leahy brought with her a unique, necessary international dimension that helped promote World Youth Day to government departments involved in the project.
The defence department has given three senior people to the project on a full time basis. Thank God for Lt. Col. Klaus Bartels, my chief of staff, who brings to our headquarters an uncanny blend of logistical expertise, common sense and boundless kindness. Abroad, Canadian embassies and consulates have been instrumental in assisting pilgrims through the visa application requirements and in networking with local churches and organizers to explain the processes.
At the formal request of the Catholic church, the government of Canada has waived the visa fee — an unprecedented gesture ensuring that WYD is an event open to youth from all over the world, including and especially the poorer nations.
The Canadian Embassy to the Holy See, located on the Via Conciliazione, just down the street from St. Peter”s Square, deserves special mention for its liaising role with the Vatican and for the impressive hi-tech WYD exhibition it recently organized in a strategic location in Rome. Ambassador Wilfrid Licari and his staff are in daily contact with the national organizing committee, and many of us have called and experienced the embassy — our “home away from home” in Rome.
On the local scene, we are grateful to have been offered Parc Downsview Park as the location of the Papal Vigil and Concluding Mass to be celebrated by John Paul on July 27-28.
The tri-level intergovernmental partnership that has been established through World Youth Day has taught us the importance of collaboration every step of the way.
Merci beaucoup, Canada! Tu sais porter ta croix! Tu sais accueillir le monde. Thanks for helping the church to welcome the world and St. Peter's Successor to our shores!
June 23, 2002 - Ontario key backer: Provincial cash helps make World Youth Day a reality
The Ontario government and its many agencies have played a key role in making World Youth Day 2002 a reality in Toronto. The province was the first level of government to provide cash support; it has been steadfast in its support for WYD from the beginning of the project in 1998 and continues to help WYD organize and mount one of the largest international events ever to take place in Canada.
To date, the province has given $2.9 million in grants to WYD 2002. This includes $1 million for administration — seed funding for office space, marketing costs and program development in 2000. In 2001 Ontario gave us a second grant of $1.37 million for the staffing of 60 positions. Once again in early 2002, the Ontario Trillium Foundation gave World Youth Day a $500,000 grant to help recruit and train volunteers.
World Youth Day 2002 is grateful to Ontario for waiving rental feels for the use of all provincial sites, including Ontario Place (used for youth festivals and concerts), the Royal Ontario Museum (used for the Vatican Art Exhibit), the legislative assembly properties (used for the Stations of the Cross) and Sainte- Marie Among the Hurons, in Midland, where several components of World Youth Day will take place prior to the week in Toronto.
Unfailing in their support and friendship for World Youth Day are Chris Hodgson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, and his great policy adviser, Cheryl Brownlee. Both Chris and Cheryl are so youthful that they qualify for WYD pilgrims! I had the privilege of bringing Hodgson and former premier Mike Harris to Rome during the World Youth Day in August 2000.
We cannot forget the gracious support of former lieutenant governor Hilary Weston, who represented the province at the passage of the Pilgrim Cross at the Vatican last year on Palm Sunday. Just as the others levels of government, Ontario appointed one of its dynamic civil servants, Andra Takacs, to head the provincial secretariat for World Youth Day.
This summer, hundreds of thousands of youth will travel to Ontario in celebration of WYD 2002. They”ll be greeted by nearly 30,000 volunteers trained and ready to host them — thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation.
Through this provincial-sponsored volunteer centre and through World Youth Day 2002, Pope John Paul invites volunteers of different religions and non-believers, to put into effect inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and collaboration. All those who come through this centre cannot help but be touched by the goodness and kindness that are slowly invading our country, province and city through World Youth Day 2002.
To keep both Ontario residents and businesses informed of the many opportunities and activities from this once-in-a-lifetime event, the province launched www.wydontario.com. Ontario residents can connect with youth from around the globe by volunteering — they can host delegates, organize transportation, provide first aid and much more.
Over the next few weeks, this Web site will expand to provide Ontarians with the tools and information needed to make the most of WYD 2002, including transportation news, event schedules and information on the province”s many travel experiences.
Meeting special needs
The province has been integrally involved in the planning for delegates with special needs and has provided invaluable training resources for WYD volunteers.
WYD will showcase Ontario as an “advanced jurisdiction” for people with special needs. A major part of Ontario”s support for the big event is the Days-in-the-Dioceses program that will run from July 18-22 across the entire province. As of this past Thursday, over 26,916 WYD pilgrims will be spending a week somewhere in Ontario prior to converging on Toronto.
As a platinum sponsor of WYD, the province of Ontario is providing support to help create a successful, smooth-running event that will showcase the province's businesses, culture and attractions on a global stage.
June 23, 2002 - Feast for the senses
The words above are from a favourite poster in the Yonge St. office of Father Tom Rosica, CEO of World Youth Day 2002, which officially opens one month from today. At first blush, the poster is a warning about the headaches pilgrims can expect as tens of thousands of young people from 172 countries gather in Toronto for the week-long Catholic conference. But Rosica sees it as an invitation. It’s a call for young Catholics, particularly Canadians, to shake off their ambivalence and jump head first — and heart first — into the religious celebration. “We have been far too cerebral, living in our heads, with theological concepts and ideas. World Youth Day puts people in the mode of pilgrimage,” Rosica said.
“You’ve got to get dirty. You’ve got to get messy. You’ve got to come together. It involves all of the emotions, touching, feeling, hearing. It’s a feast for the senses.”
Will young Catholics, particularly those from Toronto, come to the table? Organizers say yes. Skeptics wonder how many.
Organizers once hoped that 750,000 young Catholics would answer Pope John Paul’s invitation to come to Toronto for World Youth Day. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well as ongoing violence in the Middle East and ailing economies in South America, have forced organizers to revise their estimates. They now expect about 350,000 pilgrims.
Local registration has also been slow. Only 10,000 young Catholics from the Toronto archdiocese, which extends from Mississauga to Oshawa to Barrie, had signed up by the end of May. A massive ad campaign featuring hip, even cheeky slogans kicked off earlier this month to pique local interest. “Who in the world will you meet?” one poster asks. “God only knows.”
Local organizers also say they had long predicted GTA pilgrims would wait until the last minute to sign up. “It’s not a story of numbers. We’re not here to add records to the Guinness Book of World Records,” Rosica said. “This is not a competition. It’s about depth, transformation, culture.”
World Youth Day is a breath of fresh air for Toronto’s Catholic church. But officials say the church in Toronto is far from gasping for air — although “that’s against the dogma of the newspapers,” said Toronto Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic.
A 1999 Environics survey for the Archdiocese of Toronto showed 48% of parishioners attended mass regularly — more than once a week to once every two to three weeks. The 1999 survey — the most recent figures available — showed a trend of church attendance rising steadily since a low of 35% in 1994. A decade before that, about 56% of Catholics went to mass regularly.
Even among young Catholics — aged 18 to 34, the target audience for World Youth Day — 42% went to mass regularly in 1999. “The church is by no means dead,” Ambrozic said. “If it were dead, we would not be having World Youth Day.” There is, however, still room for improvement, said former Toronto auxiliary Bishop Anthony Meagher, pointing to the less than 50% attendance.
“Relatively speaking, faith is alive and well and I’m sure it’s alive and well with people who don’t go to mass,” said Meagher, who heads the World Youth Day committee for Canada’s bishops. He will be installed in August as Kingston’s archbishop.
“Have we got a ways to go? Certainly. Do we need World Youth Day? Certainly.”
The first seeds of Toronto’s World Youth Day were sown in 1993 when Ambrozic travelled to Denver, where more than 600,000 cheering young people turned out to see the Pope at the final mass in the Mile High City.
Some — even organizers in Denver, the first World Youth Day held in secular North America — feared the event was doomed for failure. The Pope would later call the conference the “big surprise” of 1993.
“I was quite impressed,” Ambrozic said of the thousands of “good kids” in Denver. “In their day-to-day life, sometimes they may be laughed at for their faith or morality. There, as one young woman said, ‘I can be myself.'”
But organizing an event like World Youth Day — larger than Toronto’s 2008 Olympic bid, which would have drawn 275,000 people – was daunting. “I became scared of it because I thought of the enormous complications,” Ambrozic said.
The idea was revived after Meagher and a group of young priests returned in 1997 from Paris — the site of a World Youth Day that some also feared was headed for disaster. Just 50,000 pilgrims were registered on the eve of the conference, but more than 1.1 million faithful showed up at the final mass.
The Paris event forced adults to look past the piercings and loud music of the younger generation to see their contributions and common values. Meagher said church leaders believed a World Youth Day in Toronto would do the same.
“It’s their church as well as ours,” the bishop said. “The bishops and priests need to listen to young people. We could do a lot better. This is what World Youth Day is doing. It’s already having a difference.” Toronto’s bid to host World Youth Day became official in 1999 when the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously endorsed the plan. The bid came after the country’s bishops, headed by Meagher, spent more than a year studying the feasibility of bringing World Youth Day to Toronto. “It was a risk. They’re not stupid, the bishops. They knew they were taking a risk financially, the use of time,” Meagher said. The organizers would be on the hook for $30 million if not a single pilgrim showed up, he said, but “the young people were worth taking a risk.”
On Aug. 20, 2000 — a punishingly hot day in Rome — the Pope invited the crowd of two million young Catholics at the Tor Vergata campus to Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002.
“Dear young friends, Toronto is waiting for all of you who can make it,” the Pope said. Rev. Mario Salvadori, registration coordinator for the Toronto archdiocese, said he was recently asked if World Youth Day is a Catholic convention. No, the Woodbridge priest said. It’s like a big family reunion and even the most distant relatives are invited.
“The church is their home. They’re always welcome and I’m not sure they always knew that,” Salvadori said. “No matter how long they’ve been away, they’re always welcomed here. This event will be for many people who left the church a homecoming.”
When Salvadori was assigned to St. Margaret Mary parish a year ago, the young Catholics were blase about church activities. “It’s hard to compete with Colossus (a nearby movie complex),” he said.
Since then, 700 pilgrims have signed up for World Youth Day from the parish of predominantly young families and they’ve raised $29,000 through car washes and ice cream sales to offset their costs.
“They’re very curious and excited,” Salvadori said. “The church would not be the same in Toronto without World Youth Day.” At least one group says Toronto should not host World Youth Day at all. Joanna Manning, spokesman for Challenge the Church, said the conference endorses the “sexist policies” of the Catholic church which bar women from entering the priesthood. Manning, a Catholic teacher, said her group will host a parallel event during World Youth Day at Holy Trinity church to discuss “issues not on the agenda,” including sexual abuse and the position of women in the church. The group has challenged World Youth Day’s policy against sexual abuse, saying not enough is being done to ensure that pilgrims — many of whom are staying with volunteers — are not harmed during the week-long conference. “I think prevention is the best policy,” Manning said.
“We take (concern) this very seriously,” said World Youth Day spokesman Paul Kilbertus. Staff and volunteers underwent police checks as well as training on sexual abuse and harassment. Those hosting pilgrims in their homes are screened, interviewed and subject to a home visit, he said. The measures were reviewed by lawyers and police and “they feel it is an adequate or appropriate policy,” Kilbertus said. The debate emerged as the U.S. Catholic church struggled with a sexual abuse scandal and its handling of pedophile priests.
One pilgrim said it was important to have World Youth Day this year on North American soil in the midst of the scandal. Abi Bolado, a 24-year-old MBA student at York University, said the workshops in the early part of the conference, called catecheses, can help pilgrims answer any questions or doubts about the church. Bolado’s own questions about her faith were answered at World Youth Day in Manila in 1995. Then living in the Philippines at the time, Bolado was a reluctant pilgrim, having been told by school nuns it was mandatory to attend the conference.
“It was so much fun,” she now recalls of the Manila conference. What changed Bolado’s mind was the opportunity to meet young Catholics from around the world — Saudis, Pakistanis, Germans and Ukrainians among them — as well as the catecheses sessions that dealt with practical faith matters.
“It was far from the typical notion of church,” Bolado said of the debates on relationships and marriage. On the last day of the conference, Bolado — who spent the previous night dodging an exploding portable toilet — squeezed through knots of people, climbed stairs and scaled walls to get a closer look at the Pope. The crowd was massive — an estimated 4.5 million people during the closing mass with the Pope — and Bolado said the mood was solemn and appreciative. She left World Youth Day with a deeper faith and so many blessings. “It was really beautiful,” Bolado said. “For a day, you felt at peace.”
Rev. Thomas Kalarathil, pastor at St. Dunstan’s Catholic Church in Scarborough, said a frail, aging man of God has brought a renewed enthusiasm to the church.
The Pope, now 82, started World Youth Day in 1984, and it is his presence at every conference that draws pilgrims, reacquainting some with the Catholic church.
“(We) are opening up more and more to young people,” said Kalarathil, who will open his parish to the World Youth Day cross Tuesday. “In the past, they were kind of left out. Maybe we were not understanding them or actively getting out to them. Now there is an enthusiasm.”
June 23, 2002 - Island ideal papal retreat
When the Vatican made the formal announcement on June 18 of the Pope”s residences in and around Toronto for World Youth Day 2002, it was as though a hurricane had blown through our offices. We received so many telephone calls from international and national media that two phone systems were knocked down for several hours. We stopped counting the calls after several hundred, but one thing was certain from the inquiries: There is great interest in the vacation habits of an ailing, 82-year-old Polish man whose headquarters are situated on the banks of the Tiber river in Rome.
Many were taken aback when we repeated throughout those first 24 hours after the announcement that the Pope was the simplest and easiest part of World Youth Day, and that his plans had all been finalized last October. But let”s get this clear: Pope John Paul II is very easy to look after. He has simple tastes; he is appreciative of the smallest thing, and loves the outdoors and nature.
While in Canada he will be a guest of two important Canadian religious orders — the Congregation of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers) and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.
This week we will take an inside look into Strawberry Island. Next week I”ll tell you the story of Morrow Park, the Pope”s Toronto residence. For the first time during this nearly 25-year pontificate, Pope John Paul will be taking some holidays outside Italy when he arrives in Toronto on July 23. Previous World Youth Days had the Pope arriving a few hours before the opening ceremonies and departing immediately after the closing mass on the final day of the event.
Canada will be different. Following a brief, private arrival ceremony at Pearson airport on July 23, John Paul II will be flown by helicopter 45 minutes north to Strawberry Island on Lake Simcoe, about 10 km off the shore from Orillia.
One year ago, the Vatican asked me to find a quiet location for the Pope to rest prior to WYD. As a Basilian Father myself, I knew of our beautiful, tranquil, rustic island in the middle of Lake Simcoe, which has been our community retreat centre, summer vacation destination and gathering place for Basilians since 1922.
Through the generosity of our then superior general, Fr. Ronald Fabbro, CSB, (now Bishop-elect Fabbro of the Diocese of London, Ont.) and the Basilian General Council, the island was “loaned” to the Pope for some pontifical R “n” R.
The island was known as Anderson Island in 1875, probably for Capt. Thomas Gummersall Anderson. He was the first “Indian agent” in the area and negotiated the transfer of the Lake Simcoe islands from the Chippewa in 1856. In 1877, the island was called “Starvation Island,” after an 1860 incident in which Beaverton fishermen were stranded by a storm and almost starved.
In 1885, Capt. Charles McInnis bought the land for $800. Although still known officially as Anderson Island, McInnis changed the name to Strawberry, to reflect the giant strawberries cultivated there. McInnis developed the island as a summer resort. Thank God for the name change. I”m not sure the Vatican would be too happy with a headline: “Ailing Pontiff to rest on Starvation Island in Ontario.”
On June 6, 1922, Fr. William Roach, CSB, leased the property for $300. Along with Basilian Fathers Francis Forster and Henry Carr, he purchased the island for $4,000 in 1923.
I don”t think that Frs. Roach and Bondy would have ever imagined that 80 years later, their rustic summer resort would play host to the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the head of the billion-plus membership of the Roman Catholic Church.
Fr. Rosica is national director of the WYD organizing team.
July 7, 2002 - Pope will be at home during Toronto visit
After four, restful days on Strawberry Island in Lake Simcoe, Pope John Paul will come down to Toronto by helicopter on Saturday morning, July 27, and take up residence for three days at Morrow Park, the sprawling motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.
Many of the 200 sisters who form this congregation live at Morrow Park, which serves as a secondary school, convent, retirement home, headquarters and infirmary for this well-known order of nuns that has been such a vital part of the local scene for more than 150 years. In fact, the sisters have just concluded their sesqui-centennial year of celebrations.
While at Morrow Park, the Pope will get some rest between the large World Youth Day ceremonies at Downsview Park, and receive visits from Canadian political leaders as well as meet with all of the sisters who live at Morrow Park.
On Saturday afternoon, thanks to the efforts of Morrow Park papal visit coordinator Sister Mary Carl Lemire, CSJ, the Pope will be able to meet with the bishops of Canada over lunch.
It was on Oct. 7, 1851, that the first four sisters arrived in Toronto from Philadelphia at the request of then-Bishop de Charbonnel to take over an overcrowded orphanage on Nelson St. (now known as Jarvis St.) amid the typhus- and cholera-stricken poor of Toronto.
When the sisters came to Toronto, they were part of a 350-year-old French religious community that had roots in the village of Le Puy in France, where God had stirred the hearts of six women and a Jesuit priest to begin a congregation of non-cloistered sisters who would devote their energies to the care of the poor and afflicted.
As the years passed, the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto responded to new needs in the community, especially in area of health care, with the opening of St. Michael”s Hospital and its nursing school in 1892, St. Joseph”s Hospital in 1921, and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in 1940.
The founding of hospitals, homes for the aged and social services was not limited to the Toronto area but spread throughout B.C., Manitoba and Quebec. The other great contribution of this order was in the area of education, with elementary and secondary schools across the country, as well as several sisters involved in higher education at the university level.
Their lifestyle and work attracted many other young women, causing three other congregations of sisters to be founded from the Toronto group: Hamilton (1852), London (1868) and Peterborough (1890). The sisters did not confine their good works to North America but also began missions in Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras.
Morrow Park opened in 1960 at 3379 Bayview Ave., in north Toronto. The property was donated to the Sisters of St. Joseph by Frederick Morrow, a wealthy financier who founded the Essa Securities Company. Before 1960 the Morrow Park location was undeveloped forest land. The Bay and Wellesley Sts., but the new location offered room for needed expansion.
Their present building is ideal for the Pope: Private, prayerful, easily accessible and very peaceful. The present general superior, Sister Margaret Myatt, CSJ, said: “It is a great privilege to welcome our Holy Father to our home. July 27 to 29, will be days that we will treasure knowing that the vicar of Christ has visited with us. Our prayer is that he will have a safe journey and that he will relish the prayerful enthusiasm of the youth of the world in Toronto.”
The Pope will certainly be at home among the sisters, who have been strong and eloquent artisans of the Gospel for the last 150 years. The Pope already knows that several sisters have been working hard on the national staff of WYD 2002.
Work from above
In fact, one of the pillars of our national staff had been Sister Winnifred O”Mara, CSJ, who died suddenly two weeks ago after suffering a stroke. Though a great loss to all of us at World Youth Day 2002, I have no doubt that Sister Winnifred continues her work on our behalf from another vantage point — joining the host of WYD patron saints and blesseds who are busily interceding for this massive project from heaven.
It is a rare privilege for us that the Holy Father has chosen to come early to Canada and spend some restful time with the Basilian Fathers at Strawberry Island before he takes part in the WYD events. I could not think of two more worthy hosts than the Basilians and the Sisters of St. Joseph, who open wide their doors to Pope John Paul. He will find in them good friends who share his vision of the new evangelization and his great love for the young people of the world.
July 14, 2002 - WYD Will Bring City 'Dose of Joy'
Early one morning this past week on my walk down Yonge St. to work, a well-dressed businesswoman came out of a coffee shop and stopped me as I was walking by. She said she noticed my roman collar (priest”s black shirt) and felt compelled to say something to a priest.
I didn”t know what to expect and she simply said to me: “Thanks to you and your church for bringing this World Youth Day to our city. I don”t know if you have anything to do with it, Father, but we need World Youth Day very badly.” When I asked her why, she answered: “Because we need a good dose of joy in the midst of so much sadness.”
I didn”t tell her what my job was and continued down the street to our national office. “A good dose of joy in the midst of so much sadness …” I repeated to myself several times. That woman knew something about the power of World Youth Day. More than traffic disruptions and street closures, more than long lineups for meals and water, World Youth Day is ultimately about joy and generosity.
The great catalyst for World Youth Day in Canada was the 12-ft high plain wooden cross that was entrusted to young Canadian Catholics in St. Peter”s Square, on Palm Sunday 2001. Over the past year, that cross has visited all 72 Catholic dioceses in the country, logging over 42,000 km by air (prop and jet), road, boat, snowmobile, foot and even dogsled.
West to Whitehorse
The cross went as far west as Whitehorse (Yukon); as far east as Signal Hill, in St. John”s (Newfoundland); and as far north as Inuvik (Northwest Territories), which is at the 67th parallel. The cross visited more than 350 cities, towns and villages, and even took a detour outside Canada at the end of February to travel to Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. The young people of the world began arriving in Canada for World Youth Day last week. Many of them are taking part in the Days in the Dioceses component from July 17-21, visiting 35 of Canada”s 72 dioceses.
When all 200,000-plus pilgrims converge on Toronto July 22, there will be about 35,000 pilgrims in 14,000 homes, 118,000 pilgrims housed in 260-plus schools; tens of thousands more staying in hotels, with their families and friends, their religious communities and other alternative arrangements.
World Youth Day will officially open the afternoon of July 23, with a Mass at Exhibition Place presided over by Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto. The welcoming ceremony with the Pope is scheduled for July 25, at Exhibition Place.
On the afternoons of July 24, 25 and 26, young people will be able to visit Coronation Park, christened “Duc in Altum Park” for the occasion. Confessionals will be installed in the park and priests will be available for confession in various languages. One area of the park will be reserved for eucharistic adoration. There will also be the Youth Festival, which will include artistic, cultural and spiritual events.
The Youth Festival involves 3,000 participamts from 35 countries. There will be 173 groups participating at 320 performances on 10 stages along with Downsview and five Toronto parks. In addition there will be 30 seminars, 10 prayer experiences, 300 vocational or service group exhibits and 10 cultural gatherings.
Some young pilgrims may wish to take part in the social service dimension of assisting 60 participating agencies that serve the poor, the elderly, the homeless and several people who are dying.
When World Youth Day is long gone, the memory of 300,000 hours of volunteer service will linger in this city.
On Friday, July 26, the Way of the Cross will take place in several areas of Toronto. The main procession will depart from City Hall at 7:30 p.m. and will cross the city centre along University Ave. This impressive ceremony is open to the public and will be shown live on CBC television.
The other events open to the public are: the Papal Welcome Ceremony, July 25; and the concluding Mass with the Pope, July 28.
July 21, 2002 - An ideal host
Special to The Sun
I will never forget a very hot day in mid-August 2000, sitting on the Via Conciliazione in Rome with Mayor Mel Lastman and his wife, Marilyn. Both held small battery-operated fans, and were trying to remain cool in 40C weather. Tears were streaming down their faces, in part because of the oppressive heat and in part due to the extraordinary scene taking place before our eyes. More than 500,000 young people were streaming down this historic street toward St. Peter”s Basilica in order to walk through the Holy Door.
Music accompanied the pilgrimage and firefighters from Rome were spraying a fine mist into air to cool the pilgrims. Mayor Lastman turned to me and said that Toronto had to experience this incredible goodness and beauty, and that he would do everything in his power to make it happen in 2002.
After two long years of planning for World Youth Day 2002, Lastman was true to his word and the event is now unfolding before our eyes.
Many of the streets of Toronto are filled with groups of young people who are among more than 200,000 delegates or “pilgrims” from more than 170 countries. World Youth Day is also drawing to Toronto 550 cardinals and bishops from around the world. Many of them will lead the teaching sessions held on three mornings of this week in more than 130 different locations. Toronto will shine in ways that it has never done before on the international stage. At press time, 3,800 print, television and electronic journalists have been accredited to this event.
City made for WYD
I have always felt that Toronto is a city made for World Youth Day. Just looking at the nationalities, races, cultures, colours and accents of the people who live here makes me do a double take — it seems like World Youth Day has been taking place here for years.
The City of Toronto played a pivotal role to bring World Youth Day to Toronto. When the idea was first suggested that Toronto host this international celebration, city council rallied its support behind World Youth Day and devoted valuable resources to assist in preparing the document demonstrating why Toronto is a suitable city to host World Youth Day. Council endorsed the bid in 1998. The board of governors at Exhibition Place followed suit and committed the venue even before Toronto was announced as host city.
Many city services, departments and agencies have done a superb job in helping us prepare for this event. The Toronto Police Service are among the many city agencies that have embraced World Youth Day from the very beginning. Chief Julian Fantino and Insp. Larry Sinclair, head of the WYD Joint Police Task Force have inspired the entire World Youth Day staff by their dedication to this world class project.
The outstanding cooperation of Rick Ducharme and all at the TTC has enabled the young pilgrims to move from one event to another on a first-class transportation system. World Youth Day would not be possible without the cooperation we have received from Toronto.
A lasting legacy of World Youth Day is the inukshuk structure that has been built in Battery Park along the lake to commemorate the event. It will be formally inaugurated on tomorrow morning by Mayor Lastman and many dignitaries. The 28-foot granite inukshuk, designed by Kellypalik Qimirpik, will commemorate World Youth Day 2002 and the papal visit.
Inukshuks are cairns often built in the shape of a human being (in Inuktitut, language of the Inuit, inukshuk). Such sculptures dot the Arctic landscape and serve as navigational guides for people travelling through one of the worlds most desolate landscapes.
The World Youth Day 2002 held in Toronto, a city known from its origins to be “the meeting place,” invites young people to be salt of the earth and light of the world. This monument is a reminder of the immense, wonderful gathering of young people and Pope John Paul held in Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario from July 23-28.
Thanks, Mayor Lastman and your staff and hundreds of assistants. You were faithful to your words in Rome two years ago.
July 28, 2002 - WYD a Gift from God
Special to The Sun
There are “electric” moments in life … when all seems to stop and we fix our gaze on some event, some happening, some image, some person in a strange sense of admiration and awe. One such moment happened last Tuesday on a splendid, sun-drenched day as an Alitalia plane came to a halt on the runway of Pearson International Airport. I was in a line headed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and leaders of government of all levels, followed by officials of the Canadian church. The eyes of about 500 people in the huge hangar were fixed on the plane. Silence had come over the entire assembly as we waited for the Pontiff to be lowered to the ground in a specially fitted lift.
To our astonishment, the lift was not used. Pope John Paul appeared at the door of the aircraft and began a slow descent of the stairs. The eyes of the world were fixed on this elderly man, and every step was carefully measured. Then the roar of the crowd was heard inside the terminal and all across this country. John Paul did it again! The Pope of the great surprises, the pastor, the shepherd, the courageous leader, entered into this most representative assembly of the nation and the church in Canada, gathered for the formal welcoming ceremony.
All throughout the preparation process for World Youth Day 2002, I was never concerned about a no-show of the Pope at our event. I have never experienced anything quite like the airport welcome ceremony. The joy that radiated from event and that has since has permeated Toronto was clear sign to me that God is with us in a powerful way in the person of John Paul. When Monsignor Renato Boccardo, the Pope”s chief of protocol, invited me to present to the Pope 30 young people from Canada, several of whom were seriously ill, there were tears of joy on the faces of nearly everyone in the hangar.
I noticed that there were few dry eyes in the huge media pool that was present at the airport. Last Tuesday was truly a moment of grace and blessing for Canada. And those blessings have increased throughout the past week.
The genius of Pope John Paul was clearly evident in his granting World Youth Day to Canada this summer. Canada and Toronto need World Youth Day to wake us up, infuse us with joy, remind us of our gifts and qualities of hospitality, tolerance and peacemaking that have characterized this nation. But Canada also needed World Youth Day to call us back to our deeply Christian origins in this country. It is only when a nation and a society reclaim their original identity that they can ever hope to become authentically multicultural, tolerant, and open to others.
In the streets of Toronto we have witnessed rivers of joy flowing abundantly as young people from 175 countries make their way to over 130 catechetical sites. Cardinals, bishops, priests and sisters made themselves at home in our great city and the image of the church that has been presented through the media speaks of life, youthfulness and joy. One night this past week, I visited all of the television media booths at the immense press centre set up at Exhibition Place to accommodate the 3,800-plus accredited journalists to the event just to say thank you” for telling the WYD story in a magnificent way.
When I walked into one of the major American TV network offices, those present burst into applause. One senior woman producer blurted out: “This is one of the most beautiful stories we have ever covered. Thanks for helping to arrange it.”
Even the most cynical among us cannot help but be moved by the streams of young people who have expressed their joy at being Catholic Christians in a complex and shadow-filled world. All of this has not been a show, nor a protest or photo opportunity staged by some big marketing company hired by the Catholic church to restore its image in the light of scandals and difficulties. The World Youth Day is a gift from God given to Canada and Toronto — to wake us up and remind us that we are called to be happy and to be peacemakers in a troubled world.
And north of Toronto, on Strawberry Island in beautiful Lake Simcoe, there has been tremendous joy as Peter”s successor found rest and relaxation, energy and peace at the summer residence of the Basilian Fathers, my own congregation. The Pope spent a very restful week on the Island, and managed to make so many others happy, especially the residents of the Huronia Regional Centre who were out in paddle boats when his boat went by. On Friday, along with Archbishop Anthony Meagher, I took 14 young people from 12 different countries to the Island to lunch with the Pontiff. Many have nicknamed Lake Simcoe “the Holy Sea” this past week.
The great irony of all of this incredible story is the fact that the catalyst of the whole adventure of World Youth Day is an old man, a warrior, a fighter, a shepherd and courageous leader who has come to Canada to help us rediscover our own youthfulness, hope and joy. His presence among us has brought a few tears, hundreds of thousands of hearts that have been deeply touched, and lives that will be forever changed.
I will never be able to visit Exhibition Place again without hearing the songs and laughter, seeing the crowds and the flags. Nor will I ever walk up University Ave. without envisioning the thousands of people on their knees on the Way of the Cross. Downsview Park and the Bombardier airstrip will remain for me one of the biggest cathedrals in the world … and Strawberry Island and Morrow Park will have a glow around them for the rest of their days.
All of this because an old man haltingly descended the stairs of a plane in Toronto on July 23, 2002 and kicked off World Youth Day 2002. He came among us to embrace the youth of the world who had responded his invitation to “Come, and tell the world of the happiness you have found in meeting Jesus Christ, of your desire to know him better, of how you are committed to proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth!”
July 28, 2002 - WYD transformed a city
Special to The Sun
Over the past week the World Youth Day National Office has been inundated with calls, letters, messages, e-mails, gifts from every corner of the globe, and from every part of this great city.
Let us try to examine what happened at World Youth Day that captivated the hearts and imaginations of millions of people throughout the world. How can we explain that the accredited journalists and media outlets for this event numbered close to 4,000 people? To what do we attribute the extraordinarily positive media coverage of this international gathering in every corner of the earth?
If indeed the registered delegates for WYD 2002 numbered slightly over 200,000 young people from 173 countries of the world, where did the all the other people come from? Who were the more than 350,000 at the welcoming ceremony for the Pope at Exhibition Place on July 25, the more than 500,000 people crowding University Avenue and Queen”s Park for the moving stations of the cross on Friday evening, July 26? At the evening vigil on Saturday, July 27, police estimated more than 600,000 people were in attendance. And the icing on the WYD cake came on Sunday morning, July 28, with well over 800,000 people attending the papal mass.
On July 22, the caravans of young people converged upon Toronto. The youngsters were housed with families, in schools, arenas, camp grounds and some in hotels.
The youths came to Toronto on pilgrimages, responding to the invitation of the Successor of Peter, an 82-year-old infirm Pope who is for so many of them a source of inspiration, fatherhood, friendship, and peace. But this time I heard many of the young delegates saying clearly that “this man was the closest person to Jesus Christ that they had ever met.”
On Tuesday, July 23, Pope John Paul arrived in Canada, and for the first time in a nearly 25-year pontificate, took a four-day holiday on Strawberry Island, in Lake Simcoe. His welcoming ceremony at Pearson International Airport set the tone for the entire week. The Holy Father told the audience that “The young people from all parts of the world … gathering for the World Youth Day bear the marks of a humanity that too often does not know peace, or justice. Too many lives begin and end without joy, without hope.
The great cause of peace
That is one of the principal reasons for the World Youth Day. Young people are coming together to commit themselves, in the strength of their faith in Jesus Christ, to the great cause of peace and human solidarity.”
What we experienced over the next six days was exactly what the Pope announced in his words of welcome: World Youth Day had come to Canada to bring us hope and joy, to teach us about commitment to Jesus Christ, to strengthen our faith, and to encourage peace and solidarity among all participants. The real miracle of World Youth Day is that it overflows into the city, the province, the country, into society and the world.
Pope John Paul told me how much he appreciated the welcoming ceremony, at Exhibition Place on July 25. High atop the stage, an old man looked out over a crowd too numerous to count, and had tears in his eyes, as he witnessed his “joy and his crown,” the young people who are clearly at the heart of this pontificate. And Pope John Paul invited them “to be the people of the Beatitudes.” He cried out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you if, like Jesus, you are poor in spirit, good and merciful; if you really seek what is just and right; if you are pure of heart, peacemakers, lovers of the poor and their servants. Blessed are you!”
On Friday evening, majestic University Ave., with its courthouses, government buildings hospitals, university buildings, parliament, and museums was suddenly transformed into a Via Dolorosa, with over half a million people praying, most of them on their knees. It was stunning, magnificent, and instructive. Toronto, the powerful financial capital that it is, got much more than they bargained for with this World Youth Day. And as we walked and prayed the Via Crucis in downtown Toronto, Pope John Paul watched it on television from Strawberry Island. He was so moved by the presentation that at his departure from Pearson airport on Monday, the last young people he greeted were the “cast” of the stations of the cross, especially the young people who played the roles of Jesus, Mary and Mary Magdalene.
Pope John Paul presided
Saturday and Sunday brought hundreds of thousands of young people and so many others to Downsview Park. The former military base and airfield were transformed into a huge outdoor cathedral. Here Pope John Paul presided over the Saturday vigil and the Sunday final mass.
If there is one dominant image in my mind and heart of the whole experience, it is as though for those 10 days in July, Canada and Toronto had become a huge canvass in the workshop of God, and that the Creator himself painted wide brushstrokes of extraordinary goodness and kindness across our country and our city. And we will never be the same because of this event.
It will take this lifetime and the next to properly thank all of those people in Toronto who opened their doors, their hearts, their minds to welcome this great gift. If you were one of those people, know of the deepest gratitude of hundreds of thousands of young people who have returned to their own countries to tell the good news of what they experienced and the people they met. And know of the profound gratitude of the church, and of the National World Youth Day Office.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., was National Director and Chief Executive Officer of World Youth Day 2002
© Tim Lee Loy
August 11, 2002 - The unsung heroes of WYD
Special to The Sun
This past week I had the privilege of addressing the 120th International Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Anaheim, Calif., expressing to the assembly of several thousand delegates the deep gratitude felt by of all of us at World Youth Day for the invaluable assistance they provided to us over the past three years.
The Knights, together with the Catholic Women”s League of Canada, are two excellent, dedicated groups of Catholic laity whose work is often unsung and unrecognized. Today I would like to shed some light on both groups and speak of their invaluable contribution to World Youth Day 2002 across Canada.
First, a word about the Catholic Women”s League (commonly called the CWL). This group was founded in 1920 to gather Catholic women together for spiritual development, to promote the teachings of the Church, to exemplify the Christian ideal in home and family life, to protect the sanctity of human life, to enhance the role of women in church and society, and to recognize the dignity of all people everywhere.
Many of us simply know the CWL as the stalwart women of any Catholic parish who tend to many material aspects of parish life. I have had the privilege of working closely with them for nearly 20 years and have come to appreciate their incredible leadership and service to the Church in hundreds of ways. They don”t only bake cookies and set up for social receptions! Last August I was privileged to address the CWL national convention in Calgary and invite them to sponsor the printing of the liturgical prayer books essential for every WYD pilgrim and participant.
The CWL kept its promise and donated more than $200,000 to cover the cost of these booklets that have now gone out to every corner of the globe with the young pilgrims. In addition to their financial contribution, CWL members assisted across the country with the reception of the World Youth Day cross in every diocese, providing hospitality, prayerful celebrations and wise leadership.
When it came time to host tens of thousands of young pilgrims in the Days in the Diocese part of World Youth Day 2002, hundreds of CWL members opened their homes and provided hospitality, often coordinating large groups of young people in their sojourns in so many parts of Canada prior to WYD in Toronto.
Now that the pilgrims have returned to their home countries, we have heard from hundreds of them, especially about the genuine hospitality they experienced from their hosts across the country.
Tons of gratitude
On behalf of all the young people, and all of us at the national office of World Youth Day, I express express tons of gratitude to the CWL for their key role in our mega event! As they gather at their national convention in Moncton this week, I would like each of them to know of the esteem and admiration of the young people of the world and the entire Canadian Church.
The spirit of World Youth Day was certainly present in Anaheim this past week as the Knights of Columbus gave World Youth Day great prominence at their convention. This well-known group of Catholic men was founded in 1882 by a 28-year-old parish priest, Fr. Michael J. McGivney, in the basement of a church in New Haven, Conn.
1.6 million members
Today more than a century later, it is the largest lay organization in the Catholic Church, numbering 1.6 million men in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Guatemala and Guam. This important lay order of the K of C has assisted popes, presidents and government leaders in establishing public policy, maintaining Christian values in complex situations, and embodying the best qualities of charity, leadership, devotion, patriotism and family life.
Thanks to the Knights of Columbus, and their international leader, Carl Anderson, WYD 2002 received a $1-million donation that allowed us to transform Coronation Park into Duc in Altum Park, where tens of thousands of confessions were heard by more than 1,000 priests from around the world. The K of C contribution helped us with the printed materials necessary for promoting the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as the highly successful Vocation Pavilion set up at Exhibition Place.
It was no wonder then that the hundreds of Knights rose to their feet in applause when I told them this past week in Anaheim that their generosity and leadership made World Youth Day such a success in Canada. The outstanding television coverage of World Youth Day 2002 throughout the world helped millions of people to feel part of this great event. Hundreds are now writing to let us know of the great hope, joy and promise of peace they found in this event.
We all know that an event of such a great magnitude has a price attached to it — and we do have a shortfall. But I am also confident that the Canadian people are generous and unafraid to invest in our young people, who are the hope of the present and the future.
For this reason we turn to the public to assist us with financial donations to help us cover the expenses of this great event that has touched our country and our world. Any support you can give us is much appreciated.
Here is how you can help us: Call 1-888-559-9930, starting tomorrow, to make a donation by credit card. Or mail a cheque to World Youth Day 2002, 415 Yonge St., 9th floor, Toronto, M5B 2E7, or make a deposit at any branch of Scotiabank to the World Youth Day 2002 account. Let us follow the example of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women”s League in supporting World Youth Day 2002.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., was National Director and Chief Executive Officer of World Youth Day 2002
August 18, 2002 - Moved by magic of WYD
Special to The Sun
In my last weekly column in The Toronto Sun, I would simply like to share with you some of the thousands of messages we have received on a daily basis since World Youth Day 2002. The thousands of messages have come from many parts of Canada and every corner of the world, reminding us that what transpired in Canada during the last two weeks of July has had a deep and lasting effect on millions of people.
Over the past week, most of the messages I have received begin with: “Dear Fr. Rosica, I am not a Catholic but I write to you to let you know the impact World Youth Day has had upon me, my family, my friends, my colleagues … We have not stopped talking about it.” For those throughout Canada, and especially in Toronto, who had the opportunity of hosting the young pilgrims, there has been nothing but words of profuse gratitude. A woman from Peterborough wrote: “My grandchildren don”t come to visit me any longer but during World Youth Day I took in six young people in my house. They made me young again. I loved them and cried when they left.”
A streetcar driver wrote that h e was on vacation the week of July 23 in Toronto, but insisted on going to work every day “just to catch the spirit that was alive on the TTC.” “Bring those young people back again, Father Tom, They were a blessing to all of us.”
One of the senior RCMP officers assigned to the project for the last two years wrote to me: “Many RCMP officers who worked on WYD 2002 told me that it was the highlight of their careers to work on this event and in many cases to meet the Holy Father. They were very proud, as I was, when Pope John Paul mentioned the work of the police in his address at the Sunday mass. … On a personal note, as a Protestant, I made sure during the year that I was involved in planning for the event, to study the history and significance of the Roman Catholic Church. I came away from the experience with a deep appreciation of the faith and of the work being done by the countless priests, bishops and members of the church. The church is alive and well and prospering.”
Week of great hope
An American Sister from New York State, who brought with her many disabled young people, wrote to our department for the disabled: “This was a week of great hope and holiness in the church … The warm welcome when we arrived at the airport … the welcome of every police officer on the streets … the help at the metro and bus lines … the well organized meals … the beautiful liturgies … Our hearts were so filled it was hard to keep them contained within the body, and it was hard to keep the body on the ground. … These days we were truly able to touch the face of God in so many!”
Countless people have written to commend the various police agencies that worked on the event. One woman summed up hundreds of voices: “Never have I been to an event where the police officers were so kind and helpful. They treated us with respect and I was amazed at how they went out of their way to help the young people who became overwhelmed by the weather. They also did a fine job at managing such a huge crowd . Please extend our thanks to the various Canadian agencies who helped make our trip so memorable. I hope to return to Toronto and many other parts of Canada soon!”
In the midst of so many positive things, we are painfully aware that an accident with sewage removal has caused destruction and much pain to owners of several businesses near Downsview Park. Some companies have lost their merchandise, properties have been ruined, and many good people have experienced pain, frustration and loss. On behalf of all of us at World Youth Day, I offer our sincere regret about this unfortunate accident, and promise that we are working together with all parties and insurance companies involved in this difficult situation.
I encourage you to prolong the wonderful memories of World Youth Day 2002 with two excellent publications. The first is the World Youth Day 2002 Souvenir Album to be published by Novalis in Ottawa and will be available in October. This album, with 400 photos, chronicles the event and is priced at $29.95.
The second publication is the commemorative album Reflections of His Light, a handsome coffee-table book that chronicles the announcement made in Rome August 2000, the WYD Cross ceremony on Palm Sunday 2001 at the Vatican, the journey of the cross throughout Canada, the July 2002 event, ending with the departure of Pope John Paul on July 29. The principal photographer is renowned Canadian photo journalist, Boris Spremo, who has captured every nuance and emotion of World Youth Day. The book will be available in December at $100 per copy. Contact Monique Laurin at 416 807-7580 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the past seven months, The Toronto Sun has allowed me to have this column appear in their Sunday newspaper. I am grateful to the many people who took the time to write to me over the past seven months, to those who signed up as pilgrim hosts or volunteers, or to those who have made donations to World Youth Day 2002. On behalf of World Youth Day 2002 and the Catholic Church in Canada, I offer deepest thanks to Len Fortune and all our friends at The Toronto Sun.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., was National Director and Chief Executive Officer of World Youth Day 2002