World Youth Day in the Catholic Church: Young Canadian Shares Meal with the Pope

Friday, August 19 2005

(CCCB – Cologne)… Being a volunteer can lead to many things, including meeting the Holy Father!

Three young Canadian women, who have been in Cologne as World Youth Day (WYD) volunteers since November 2004, had a unique opportunity to meet Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday and Friday.

Véronique Rondeau of Joliette, Quebec, shared a meal with him today. Cynthia Crevier of Île Perrot, Quebec, and Amy Boskill of Saskatoon, were at his side on the boat that took him down the Rhine yesterday for his first meeting with the youth at Cologne.

A man of great simplicity

Veronique_LunchVéronique Rondeau (the 4th from left) was one of a dozen young people from around the world to share a meal with the Pope. The young 23-year old Quebec resident represented North American youth.

Véronique was impressed by the simplicity of the Pope. “He is a very simple and wise man. I was at ease in his presence,” she said. After self-introductions, participants had an occasion to ask him questions to which he patiently replied. He spoke to Véronique of his expectations of the Church today and of the Church in Canada. “His wish is that committed priests and laity spread the message of a living faith throughout the world.”

For Cynthia Crevier, it was a surprise to speak with the Pope. With about 40 young volunteers from around the world who have been working in Cologne for the past few months, she was to accompany him on the boat for his cruise down the Rhine. “He disregarded protocol because we were not supposed to meet personally. He insisted on meeting us one at a time. I introduced myself and he spoke to me in French. He told me he remembered clearly the WYD in Toronto, and was happy to be at the WYD in Cologne. He is very likeable.”

Amy Boskill was chosen at the last minute to greet Pope Benedict XVI in English. In the company of a German from Cologne, and on behalf of the pilgrims assembled in Germany, she described the joy among the youth who were impatient to meet him at his first WYD as Pope. In her address, Amy declared: “We are happy that you are here, Holy Father! We are especially glad that your first apostolic visit abroad is dedicated to the meeting of the young people of the world. Gratefully, we understand it as a sign of deep appreciation to the youth.”

The three young women were not the only young Canadians in Cologne to meet the Holy Father: Glenn McDonald and Andrew Leung, seminarians from Toronto, and Jeremy Anderson, a volunteer from Saskatoon also had the pleasure.



Cardinal Marc Ouellet during a catechesis in Düsseldorf

The Way of the Cross will conclude on Friday, while the pilgrimages to the Cathedral in Cologne and the catechesis ended today. Seven Canadian bishops were invited by the Vatican to lead catechesis sessions. During the last three days, together with other bishops from around the world, they reflected on the themes of the profound meaning of human life, meeting with Christ and ways to witness the faith in the world. The Canadian catechists were Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec, and Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal, as well as Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., of Halifax and Apostolic Administrator of Yarmouth; Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., of Saint-Jean-Longueuil; Auxiliary Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Winnipeg; and Bishop James M. Wingle of St. Catharines.

For Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the catechesis sessions were extraordinary encounters with the youth. “This is really the highlight of World Youth Day. The catechesis sessions are formation in the faith. I enjoyed the contact with young people and the spontaneity of their questions.”

Final days

Tomorrow, pilgrims will converge on Marienfeld, which will serve as the gathering place in the suburbs of Cologne. It can accommodate over a million people, according to the organizing committee. On Saturday, youth will participate in a vigil with the Holy Father, spend the night under the stars and participate in the Mass presided by the Pope the following morning. The WYD will conclude at midday, when the dates and location of the next international gathering are to be officially announced.

World Youth Day is a gathering where celebration and faith become one and where the Pope can assemble the world’s youth. As witnessed by the pilgrims from 160 countries who came to Toronto in 2002, it is an international event. The common goal is to get to know one another, share experiences and celebrate together in the presence of the Pope.

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Sylvain Salvas
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