I am delighted to be with you this evening for this Gala, “An Evening at the Dead Sea”, in celebration of the Salt + Light Catholic Television Network in Canada. What a glorious setting and what a marvelous gathering of people for such a worthy cause: Canada’s first, national Catholic Television Network.
There could be no better follow up to World Youth Day two thousand-two than this endeavor. Galen and I have followed the incredible success of this network from its first moments in two thousand-three. Not only did World Youth Day two thousand two light up this entire country, draw together hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world, and bring out the best in so many people in Canada, but it brought a very special person into the lives of Galen and me. And that person is Father Tom Rosica.
I was Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, when Father Rosica asked me in two thousand to become Honorary Patron of World Youth Day two thousand-two. He then invited Galen and me on an incredible journey to Rome for Palm Sunday two thousand one, along with seventy young people from across Canada. We went to receive the World Youth Day Cross from Pope John Paul II.
It was an extraordinary experience. Galen and I had the great fortune to sit close to the altar for that unforgettable Palm Sunday Mass. I remember how impressed I was by the idealism of those young people, their motivation by what Aristotle described as “a hopeful disposition [that] makes them think themselves equal to great things.”
I also saw during that visit how much the Pope loved young people, and how much he and the Vatican admired Tom and the work he was doing in Canada and in the world with young people. Many in the public know Tom for his scholarship, efficiency, languages, and leadership. But Galen and I and our entire family know him as a very special friend, who brings together people of every race, language, religion and way of life. I don’t know anyone who works with and inspires young adults as Tom does. You are very blessed to have him as CEO of Salt + Light. For that reason, Galen and I are honored and privileged to be part of Salt + Light and to contribute to your very worthy cause.
And what a truly great thing that World Youth Day turned out to be. At first, because of his deteriorating health, we feared that the Pope, His Holiness John Paul II, would be unable to take part in the festival he had founded. But he did indeed come to Toronto, as he had promised us he would the year before, and more than half a million young people from all over the world turned out to take part in the week-long festival.
I remember so clearly now the day the Pope celebrated Mass at Downsview. It had poured rain all through the night before and into the morning. Then, just minutes before His Holiness arrived at Downsview, the rain stopped, as though a tap had been turned off, and the sun broke through the clouds.
Somehow, it seemed all of a piece with the spirit of that week and the exuberant faith of those young people.
Encouraged by that exuberance, Salt + Light Television has, with the aid of Canadians from every generation and background, built a tool to connect Catholics with each other and with their faith.
Galen and I encourage you to be generous with Salt + Light Television.
Father Rosica, we congratulate you and your team for achieving international recognition of Salt + Light, which I am told has received the Gabriel Award as Television Station of the Year for the second year in a row. And we wish you continuing success in the brave new world of multi-media.
I hope you all enjoy this evening’s private viewing of the Deuteronomy and Ten Commandments Scrolls. I recently had the pleasure of receiving an honorary degree from University College Dublin with Professor John Joseph Collins, the world renowned scholar in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He remarked at how incredibly well organized this much anticipated exhibition was going to be. I am very much looking forward capturing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with you all this evening to see one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th Century.