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World Youth Day Pilgrimage Cross Arrives in Canada

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(Ottawa -- CCCB) A delegation of 72 Canadians led by 47 young people from across the country together with the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, and the Chairman of the 2002 World Youth Day Episcopal Committee, Bishop Anthony Meagher, have brought the World Youth Day pilgrimage cross to Canada following an emotional and colourful ceremony with the Holy Father in Saint Peter’s Square on Passion Sunday.

Pope John Paul II entrusted the cross to the young Canadians who received it from the hands of Italian youth who had hosted World Youth Day in Rome last summer.  As the Canadians held the cross, six young Inuit from across the Canadian North sang, danced and drummed in front of the Pope and 275,000 people who attended the Passion Sunday liturgy in Saint Peter’s Square.

The Canadian delegation played a prominent role in the celebrations in Rome, some processing into the Square with 10-foot palms, while others presented the readings, took part in the offertory procession, received Communion from the Holy Father, and finally were entrusted with the WYD cross.

The Pope encouraged the young Canadians “to prepare well for the next important appointment of World Youth Day.”  He asked them to “get ready to welcome the young people of the world to your beautiful country by renewing your own fidelity to Christ the Lord. Fidelity to Christ, this is my invitation.

“May your preparation of the 17th World Youth Day be an occasion to deepen young faith and your life with Christ. My prayers are with you along with my heartfelt apostolic blessing. Until we meet in Toronto!"

The Holy Father also revealed the theme for the World Youth Day 2002: “You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world,” taken from the Gospel of Matthew.

WYD 2002 National Director Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB, welcomed the theme, saying "it is both an invitation and a challenge to the young people of Canada. As we journey with the Cross throughout our vast country over the next sixteen months, let us pray that we may make the Lord known to everyone, and encourage the Catholic youth of Canada to truly be salt and light to our nation and to the whole world."

The cross will now begin its cross-country pilgrimage, beginning tomorrow in Ottawa where it will be greeted by an estimated 18,000 young people who are to gather at the Corel Centre.  From there, the cross will travel to dioceses across the country as an invitation to young Canadians to prepare for World Youth Day which will be celebrated in Canada July 18-28, 2002.  More than 600,000 young people from around the world are expected to attend the event in Canada which will begin in the dioceses across the country and culminate in a five-day celebration in Toronto that the Holy Father is expected to attend.

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Deacon William Kokesch
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Last Updated on Thursday, July 20 2006  
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