Erwin Fung designed a World Youth Day jersey with Canada’s colours to identify Canadians in Madrid.

WYD jerseys to unify pilgrims

By  Ramon Gonzalez, Canadian Catholic News
  • June 1, 2011

EDMONTON - Canadian delegates at this summer’s World Youth Day will be wearing their nation’s colours on a soccer jersey designed and produced in Edmonton.

Erwin Fung, a volunteer with Edmonton’s Office of Youth Evangelization, designed the jersey and has made it available to dioceses across Canada. About 3,000 young Catholics from across Canada are expected to attend the Aug. 16-21 event in Madrid, Spain.

In Sydney, Australia, in 2008, the Canadians wore a stock hockey jersey with the WYD logo screen printed on it.

“But because this is Spain and the national sport is soccer, Erwin designed this soccer jersey that’s gone across Canada,” said Andrew Papenbrock, director of Youth Evangelization.

So far 3,500 jerseys have been ordered nationwide. “It’s a great unifying thing,” Papenbrock said. “In Madrid when you see this jersey you will know we are from Canada.”

Fung, 30, said the Youth Evangelization Office was looking for a way to identify the Canadian pilgrims when the idea for the soccer jersey emerged.

“Since it is Spain we figured hockey jerseys would be too warm and because Spain is a big soccer country, we decided to go with soccer jerseys.”

The shirt has the Canadian WYD logo on the front and the No. 11 on the back. The 11 represents the year. The jerseys are red with white stripes on the sleeves and down the sides. “So it gives us a Canadian identity there,” Fung said. “It looks pretty cool.”

The jerseys, which cost $15 each, were produced through the University of Alberta Bookstore, where Fung works. They range from extra small all the way up to 3XL. “We wanted to make sure that everybody has a chance to fit into one.”

Fung has gone to four World Youth Days, including Toronto, Paris and Sydney, but this time he will stay in Edmonton helping out with local WYD activities.

“I think World Youth Day is a life-changing event,” he said. “It’s amazing to see hundreds of thousands of young people and then you realize that they are all Catholic and that they are all there to have an encounter with Christ.”

In Toronto, the archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth has ordered more than 100 jerseys, said OCY director Christian Elia, enough for the 97 pilgrims on their trip, Toronto Bishop William McGrattan and the two priests from the archdiocese who will be on the pilgrimage. As well, OCY ordered jerseys for the pastor, retired pastor, seminarian and secretary at the parish in Cintruénigo, Spain, where parishioners will be hosting OCY pilgrims during Days in the Diocese.

It’s important to show our national unity because we’re proud to be a part of the thousands of registered Canadian pilgrims, said Elia.

(Western Catholic Reporter with files from The Catholic Register’s Vanessa Santilli.)

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