World Youth Day Cross Arrives in Canada: Comment by Bishop Gerald Wiesner, OMI, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
On behalf of my brother bishops across Canada, I joyfully welcome the World Youth Day (WYD) cross to this country. A delegation of young Canadians received the cross from the hands of the Holy Father on Palm Sunday, April 8, during celebrations at St. Peter’s Square and brought it back to Canada as a forerunner of the next World Youth Day which will be held in Canada during July 2002. The countdown has now started for this major event that will begin first in dioceses across Canada and finally culminate in Toronto.
World Youth Day is sparking an extraordinary level of energy and enthusiasm among Canadians. More than 20,000 young people are set to gather at the Corel Centre in Ottawa to welcome the WYD cross to Canada. I would like to take this occasion to thank Archbishop Marcel Gervais who has accepted to host the Ottawa celebration launching the WYD Cross on its travels across our country.
By handing this cross to us, the Holy Father is inviting us to focus our lives on Christ and to prepare ourselves for World Youth Day 2002. Organizational work for WYD is already well underway under the auspices of the National Committee in Toronto. While the logistical aspects of hosting such a huge gathering are crucial, it is equally important that we take the time to prepare our hearts and souls for World Youth Day.
The WYD cross can help us with that spiritual preparation. It is, in a way, similar to the Olympic torch that raises both the passion and pride of a host country on its way to the Games where people from around the world will be warmly welcomed. I believe this cross will have the same impact on our people. Over the next months it will travel from diocese to diocese, reminding us of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Its passage will inspire us to become more fully committed to the meaning of WYD 2002 and the welcome that we will give to young people from all continents who will converge in Canada in response to the Holy Father’s invitation.
May the coming of this cross inspire our prayers, our commitment to serve our brothers and sisters, and our pilgrimage towards WYD 2002.
Most Rev. Gerald Wiesner, OMI
Bishop of Prince George
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops