Message of Most Reverend Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Occasion of the First Anniversary of World Youth Day 2002

Tuesday, July 15 2003

You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world! (Matt. 5:13-14) With these Gospel words, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, called the youth of the world to gather in Toronto in July 2002 to experience a strong sense of faith, fraternity and commitment on the occasion of the 17th World Youth Day celebrations. And they came, youth from all parts of the world, expressing in their own way and with a renewed sense of fervour, their love, their desire to share, life and peace.

Thousands of Canadian youth were deeply touched by this great event. This was true for those who actually attended the WYD in Toronto, as well as for the many who prepared the event in their local communities across the country. The sense of solidarity and the discovery of a life-giving Word sowed in their hearts the hope proclaimed by the Lord Jesus. As such, WYD was and remains a beacon providing guidance and giving a renewed meaning to life.

WYD was also the occasion for thousands of parish communities throughout Canada to welcome pilgrims. Families generously opened their homes and hearts to youth from the world at large. These families witnessed the veracity of the Gospel words, When you light a lamp you do not put it under a bushel but rather on a stand where it enlightens the entire room. (Matt. 5:15) As such, WYD was a time of collective renewal for the Church of Canada.

Throughout Canada the legacy of WYD continues to grow within people, not only youth, but men and women of all ages. Beyond the spectacular Toronto event that brought together hundreds of thousands of young people, there remains an internal transformation and the personal experience that is at the heart of the Gospel. This fire cannot be extinguished.

One year later, youth of the world and in particular, our Canadian youth, continue to be invited to receive the profound Gospel message that it is the salt of the earth and the light of the world.