Firm in the Faith! Six thousand Canadian youth at World Youth Day 2011, in Madrid

Monday, August 08 2011

(CCCB- Ottawa)… More than 500,000 young pilgrims from all over the world, including 6,000 from Canada, are expected in Madrid, Spain, to participate in the XXVIth World Youth Day (WYD). After Sydney in 2008 and at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI, young people from around the world will descend on the Spanish capital city of Madrid, from August 16-21, 2011, to experience this international gathering, whose theme will be “Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith”. Among other countries sending a large delegation to WYD in Spain are Italy with 90,000, Spain with 83,000, France with 50,000, the USA with 30,000, Germany with 16,000, and Australia with 4,300 young pilgrims.

Among the Canadian participants are over 470 young people from the Archdiocese of Edmonton, 510 from the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and over 1000 from various Quebec Dioceses traveling with the Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Montreal.  Nearly one hundred priests and 30 seminarians from Canada will be part of the Canadian delegation in Spain.

From August 11 to 15, 61 Spanish dioceses will host thousands of young people, among which 2,500 of our 6,000 young Canadian pilgrims, giving them the opportunity to participate in various activities. The daily program varies from one diocese to the other, but it always includes cultural activities, visits to tourist sites, festivities, and especially, prayer and celebrations.

On the morning of August 16, for the first time in the history of Canada’s participation at WYD, the Canadian pilgrims will gather together for a national celebration, in Madrid’s Palacio de Deportes. The gathering will include a special Morning Prayer, music and testimonies from young Canadians. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., will preside at the celebration and Archbishop Richard Smith, as Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), will greet the assembly in the name of the CCCB. The Canadian Ambassador to Spain, Mr. Graham Shantz, and the Spanish Consul General to Canada, Mr. Francisco Pascual de la Parte, will also be present at the gathering.

Throughout the week in Madrid, Canadians will find a special home at the “Love and Life Site”, at the Palacio de Deportes. This rest area is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life who have partnered with Canada’s Salt and Light Television and Holy Cross Family Ministries.

Canadian delegation to WYD 2011, in Madrid

In addition to the 6,000 young people, the Canadian delegation will include 24 Canadian Bishops. Invited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, five of them will serve as catechists for the young pilgrims; three in French and two in English. The Bishop catechists are: Bishops Paul-André Durocher and Lionel Gendron, and Archbishops Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, J. Michael Miller, and Richard Smith. Each Bishop will present three catechetical sessions, one for each day, based on the theme of WYD 2011 “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”. The theme for each day will be: Firm in the Faith (Wednesday), Established in Jesus Christ (Thursday), and Witnesses to Christ in the World (Friday).

Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening (August 19), as well as the evening prayer vigil on Saturday (August 20), and the closing mass on Sunday (August 21), at the Cuatro Vientos airfield, in Madrid. He will also celebrate a mass for seminarians and meet with young religious Sisters and with more than 1,000 young university professors during his stay in Madrid.    

Salt and Light, Canada’s national Catholic television network, available on satellite and cable television throughout the country, as well as on the Internet at or, will provide live coverage of World Youth Day’s most important moments and provide a special program schedule on the catechesis sessions, as well as conduct many interviews throughout the week. Salt and Light has also created a special website ( to keep our favorite memories of WYD 2011. Salt and Light CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., former National Director and CEO of World Youth Day 2002, will be in Madrid with a team of young journalists to cover the event. Fr. Rosica is also serving as coordinator of the Canadian delegation to WYD in Madrid.