Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 21, 2002
Low registration worries World Youth Day bosses
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Low registration numbers for World Youth Day 2002 in July are worrying organizers.
"Our young people have to register and be part of the catechesis, and right now the registration from Canadians is very, very slow," said Bishop Anthony Meagher. Meagher heads the Canadian bishops' World Youth Day committee.
"Young people have to prepare themselves spiritually by reading prayerfully the Gospel of Matthew and by praying themselves so that they have their own special encounter with Christ to give to our visitors," said Meagher in a CCN interview Jan. 12.
About 20,000 young people from around the world registered for World Youth Day 2002 when the registrations opened Oct. 1, 2001. But after more than three months, fewer than 80,000 people have signed up and only about five per cent of them are Canadians.
"The Canadian young people and the Canadian Church have to appreciate that we're entrusted with something wonderful here," said Meagher. "The rest of the world is counting on us to be there and for our young people to bring the encounter with Christ that they have had here in Canada and share this with people around the world."
Meagher is hoping that about 500,000 people register for the World Youth Day. "I'm told that I'm being way too optimistic, that 300,000 will be a much more realistic figure."
Most of the costs of hosting WYD from July 23-28 are paid through registrations, expected to average about $200 each.
"Based on registration, finances are not a very happy picture right now," Meagher said. "If we get 500,000 people we'll do what we intended to do and come very close to breaking even. If we don't get that then we're going to have to cut back on expenditures."
Some expenses can't be cut because of contracts with suppliers that must be signed long before WYD begins. They include agreements to provide an estimated 11.5 million meals, expected to cost $19 million.
Cardinal Francis Stafford, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, has been spending much time in Canadian dioceses the past few weeks. He said he is satisfied with the progress made so far on the number of registrations and the anticipated registrations that will be coming in.
"My sense is that there is strong support from the bishops of Canada and there seems to be strong support from the priests in the parishes," said Stafford. "They are central to this."