World Youth Day 2002: Young People Bring New Energy to the Church in CanadaThursday, June 19 2003
(CCCB – Ottawa) – The episcopal committee responsible for following up World Youth Day 2002 held in Toronto and in dioceses across Canada last July, as well as the April 2002 North American Vocations Congress in Montreal, met recently amid growing indications that youth are becoming more involved in their Church.
The committee was set up by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops(CCCB) in the wake of the joyous enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands young people attending World Youth Day (WYD) and the positive results of the Third Continental Congress for Vocations.
Committee member Bishop James Wingle of St. Catharines, Ontario, says the results of World Youth Day are enormous. “We can sense in our Church a definite excitement,” he said. “Young people who went to World Youth Day are still meeting with one another almost a year later. They have formed groups and have become involved in pastoral and community projects, and are meeting to pray and deepen their faith. As well, we are seeing many new faces in our gatherings: young people who have met some of the young pilgrims or who followed the event on television. World Youth Day was an incredible experience for our youth.
“We undertook a great risk in inviting the world to Canada, but it was well worth it,” Bishop Wingle continued. “An investment in our youth rather than bricks and mortar was both courageous and symbolic. The message is clear: young people are not only the future of the Church, but they are also present in the Church today. That message has been heard and we are now reaping the harvest.”
The episcopal committee represents the four regions of Canada (West – Bishop Gerald Wiesner, O.M.I., Prince George, B.C.; Ontario – Bishop James Wingle, St. Catharines; Quebec – Bishop André Rivest, Montreal; and Atlantic – Bishop Valéry Vienneau, Bathurst, N.B.).
While WYD 2002 in Toronto was the culmination of a nation-wide pastoral event, it also served as a catalyst that Canadian dioceses are now following up with renewed enthusiasm. An obvious success nationally and internationally, WYD is now making itself felt regionally and locally. Here are a few examples:
- Edmonton: Many new Catholic youth groups have sprung up on college and university campuses. This May, a huge gathering celebrated World Youth Day 2003. Many young people are taking their places in parishes, working at the pastoral level or becoming involved in community projects. This summer, Theology on Tap sessions will be held in a local pub where young people gather.
- Toronto: The Office for Youth Ministry has been reorganized and there has been greater emphasis placed on service-oriented projects which see young people living out Gospel values. A summer project called SOS — Summer of Service — is about to begin which sees young people involved in service projects across the archdiocese, such as feeding the homeless, cleaning parks and visiting seniors. There has also been increased interest in vocation and many more young people are actively involved in their parishes.
- Quebec City: On Passion Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), more than 700 young people gathered to celebrate WYD 2003, and 45 young people recently attended a vocations discernment session.
- Montreal: A number of youth gatherings have taken place, including Jesus Cool, a four-day event that brought together young people for song, dance and prayer. In February there was a gathering of 800 young people at Saint Joseph’s Oratory where they learned more about the Taize movement.
- Halifax: Parishes are reporting increased youth participation, and many new youth groups have been formed since World Youth Day. The Development and Peace Just Youth program has seen increased participation. There is also greater demand for youth leadership training sessions, and plans are underway to participate in World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany.
WYD 2002 Financial Report
Reacting to the Auditor’s Report for World Youth Day 2002, the follow-up committee noted that holding such a major event required an important investment by the dioceses of Canada. “Our budgetary planning was affected by events beyond our control. Attendance by young people was moderated by events such as September 11, 2001, and the political climate and economic difficulties affecting many countries. One can only imagine what would have happened if World Youth Day had been held this year in Toronto in the wake of the war in Iraq, the SARS situation and mad cow disease,” said CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, P.H.
“These statements are not the final WYD financial report. But they give an overview of WYD expenses and revenues during 2002, which was the principal year of WYD activities,” said Msgr. Schonenbach. “The corporation World Youth Days 2002 Council/Conseil des journées mondiales de la jeunesse de l’Église catholique continues in operation in order to continue managing the remaining financial work and any possible legal claims, as well as to provide on-going information concerning the project. This 2003 exercise will not affect the final financial report in a significant way.”
The complete audited financial statements for World Youth Day 2002 can be found on the website of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at http://www.cccb.ca.