Two Young Canadian Volunteers at World Youth Day 2000

Thursday, August 24 2000

(Rome – CCCB) Two young Montrealers lived a special experience in Rome as volunteers for World Youth Day (WYD) 2000. Just like 25,000 other young people, Cédric Ouellette of Saint-Eustache and Thuy-Linh Nguyen of Montreal responded to an invitation from Pope John Paul II. The event brought together hundreds of thousands of participants and much of its success rests on the work of these young volunteers.

They came from all over the world, although the majority were Italians, to provide various services such as welcoming visitors, providing information and interpreting. They were provided with lodgings on school premises, sharing rooms in groups of 20. But at least they have a bed and a shower, unlike the majority of young pilgrims who have to make do with sleeping bags on bare ground.

Thuy-Linh and Cédric arrived in Rome more than a week before the WYD pilgrims. This gave them the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the WYD organization which helped them with their responsibilities.They were also able to meet the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

Thuy-Linh had her first taste of WYD in Paris, after which she decided to help in organizing the Roman event. “I find it more exciting to be part of the WYD as a volunteer rather than a pilgrim. I wanted to be useful, to give water rather than to wait for it. But ours is a pilgrimage too. We need to exercise patience and charity towards those whom we serve,” she said. She was especially referring to the terrible heat and long waits which the participants had to endure.

As for Cédric, he sees in this adventure the opportunity to deepen his faith. “WYD 2000 has allowed me to encounter other young people with whom I can share my feelings, even if it is sometimes difficult given the language barrier. The time spent as a volunteer allows me to think about my faith and to ask for advice.”

Thuy-Linh, a theology student at the archdiocesan seminary in Montreal, simply could not believe the size of the gathering. “It is like the Olympic Games! You never find so many young people at one event. Nothing compares to this in the Church. Even Easter in St. Peter’s Square does not attract as many people.”

“And all these young people are Catholic. We feel that we are part of a Church event that transcends time and space. It is a wonderfully grand festival, and we are all part of it. This is truly a special moment, with it being the Year of the Jubilee and WYD being held in Rome. It is a historic moment for the Church.”

Thuy-Linh Nguyen and Cédric Ouellette enjoying their experience as volunteers at WYD 2000 in Rome.