300 from Toronto expected at WYD 2008

By  Andrew Santos, The Catholic Register
  • April 4, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Youth from across the archdiocese of Toronto will help to carry the Canadian banner in great numbers at this year’s World Youth Day.

Up to 300 youth from across the archdiocese are expected to make the long journey to Sydney, Australia, for this year’s celebration July 15-20, according to the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Youth.

Among the delegates from Toronto will be a group from St. Paschal Baylon parish in Thornhill. The group, which will join forces with youth from Mississauga’s St. Catherine of Siena parish (both parishes are served by the Scalabrini Fathers), will embark on a trip that will take them more than 15,000 km. Together, about 30 people will be part of the group.

Another group of 48 will be travelling with the Office of Catholic Youth of Toronto.

World Youth Day was begun by the late Pope John Paul II in 1984. The first events were held in Rome. Celebrated annually at the diocesan level, World Youth Day brings pilgrims from all corners of the globe together every two or three years in an international gathering to participate in catechetical sessions, daily Mass, a Way of the Cross procession and an overnight vigil with Pope Benedict XVI. The last event took place in 2005 in Cologne, Germany, and three years before that was hosted by the archdiocese of Toronto.

St. Paschal pilgrims have been busy fund-raising over the last year in preparation for the trip. The group organized a car wash in the parish parking lot on Labour Day weekend that brought in close to $1,000, and members have conducted garage sales and sung at weddings. They also credit parishioners who have been generous in donating towards their cause.

“The entire parish community has come together to support us and we appreciate their generosity,” said Romell Salvador, youth minister for the St. Paschal’s youth group.

“This is the opportunity of a life time and as a group, we are very fortunate to be partaking in this global celebration.”

Salvador and his group haven’t just been thinking about methods they can use to raise money. As a group, they’ve been preparing spiritually for the experience.

“Our youth group isn’t just a social network,” said Salvador. “Our roots are spiritual. Our ministry has a calling that is grounded in prayer, fellowship and service to our community. We want to make this experience worthwhile and get as much out of it as possible while there.”

Joshua Honoridez, 19, is counting down the days until he leaves for Sydney.

“The group and I are simply pilgrims who are in search of this far distant land. My wish is to have my relationship with Christ and everyone around me strengthened. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my summer,” said Honoridez.

For those who can’t make the trek halfway around the world, the Office of Catholic Youth is bringing its own celebration to the archdiocese. A WYD event is to be held July 17-20 at Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ont. Youth from dioceses across Ontario will gather at Martyrs’ Shrine to model the theme and festivities of WYD in Sydney.

John Dawson, Youth Program Co-ordinator and Executive Director for WYD ’08 in Midland, encourages all to attend.

“This is a great opportunity for youth throughout the archdiocese of Toronto who won’t be going to Sydney to come to Midland for this event,” said Dawson. “Our theme for this year truly strikes a chord. By coming to Midland with an open heart and an open mind, you will then be empowered by the Holy Spirit to become witnesses by reaching out to your friends, families and parish communities.”

Early registration closes April 15.

For information on the archdiocesan event, visit www.ocytoronto.org. For the actual event in Australia, see www.wyd2008.org.

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