Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders in Toronto met in April and May to discuss ways Anglicans can participate in World Youth Day, a major Catholic event that will take place July 18-28 and culminate in a mass led by Pope John Paul II.
Archbishop Terence Finlay, in a letter dated May 6 and sent to all Toronto Anglican parishes, urged parishioners to participate as volunteers or hosts. “World Youth Day 2002 will provide an opportunity for the Anglican diocese of Toronto to demonstrate ecumenical cooperation and Christian hospitality to these young pilgrims,” his letter read.
“They are asking us to look for billets,” said Mary Conliffe, assistant to Archdeacon Colin Johnson, who is executive assistant to Archbishop Finlay. In mid-April, the diocese was looking to form an “Anglican hospitality committee” of about a half-dozen people with experience in youth events to coordinate Anglican participation, but Ms. Conliffe noted that time was pressing. “We’re a bit concerned about the time crunch, since they will be arriving in July,” she said.
Archbishop Finlay’s letter notes that Anglicans who want to help should contact neighbouring Catholic parishes, visit the Web site at www.wyd2002.org or phone (the general information phone number is 416-913-2080).
One Anglican parish in Toronto, St. Matthew (Islington) already works with a local Catholic parish, Our Lady of Peace, on a winter program that feeds and shelters the homeless, so it was natural for the two to cooperate on World Youth Day, said Rev. Stephen Drakeford of St. Matthew.
“They approached us and asked if we could support some teenagers and we will be accommodating about 24 teenagers in our gymnasium,” said Mr. Drakeford.
World Youth Day organizers scaled back the estimate of the number of young people expected to visit Toronto in July. Earlier this year, Fr. Tom Rosica, executive director of World Youth Day, and his staff predicted that 750,000 young people from around the world would come to Toronto.
However, in early May, organisers said 350,000 is more realistic, due to the effects on travel of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to instability in parts of the world such as Afghanistan and the Middle East.
In addition, registration payments have been slower than organizers had hoped and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stepped forward to offer a short-term loan of an undisclosed amount to help World Youth Day finance its operation.
World Youth Day – actually two weeks of events – is open to Catholic participants from age 16 to 35, although persons of any age and faith may volunteer and attend events. However, the church bars non-Catholic Christians from taking communion at a Catholic mass.
Pilgrims will perform social service activities, pray, reflect, march in downtown Toronto and attend a vigil and mass with the pope at Downsview Park in suburban Toronto, formerly a Canadian Forces Base. The pope last visited Canada in 1987, when he traveled to Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, for a mass and met with Catholics in the Arctic, including a number of natives.