Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 29, 2002
Opening WYD Mass draws 100,000 youth
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Toronto's claim to be the centre of the universe came closer to reality when young people of the world converged on Exhibition Place to attend the July 23 opening Mass of the World Youth Day.
As early as 10 a.m., people started to pour onto the field. Groups carried their national flags, sang songs, chanted, played musical instruments, or simply sat in one corner waiting for the broadcast of the pope's arrival.
Because only 500 people were allowed to be at the airport when the pope arrived, thousands upon thousands watched CBC's live coverage from the huge monitors scattered in the area. Young people on the field cheered, "JP II We love you!" as they saw the pope come out of the plane.
The Mass, replete with musical extravaganza, started at 5 p.m. and lasted for two hours. Several huge monitors were installed so others could see what was happening on the stage. During the penitential rite in the Mass, film clips of the visit of the pilgrim WYD cross throughout Canada flashed on the huge monitors while the cross proceeded up to the stage. As the cross, carried by youth representing different nations, went by, people reached out to touch it.
In his homily, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic said, "Whenever I pray, I pray through him, with him and him. We cannot pray apart from Jesus Christ."
When he is conscious that he is with Jesus Christ, Ambrozic is content because Jesus is the most real human being.
"In (Christ) we find no quivering about God's will, no connivance, no evil, because (he) is total kindness, compassion and love."
WYD head Father Tom Rosica was jubilant with the day's celebration.
"This has been a magnificent beginning to the WYD. Opening with the Holy Father's arrival, the joy, the moving moment at the airport, this has been a great celebration of the Christian faith today," Rosica told the WCR after the Mass.
Two Albertans, Janelle Reinhart of Radway and Stephan Aubin of Edmonton, together with St. Michael's School Choir of Toronto and the WYD Choir, led in singing the Kyrie.
Prior to the Mass, the two Albertans, along with Susan Hookong-Taylor (singer of the English version) and Ana da Costa, led the crowd in singing the WYD theme.
Reinhart felt awestruck by the Mass. "It was just an amazing opportunity and atmosphere for worship. What I saw and experienced here is the universality of the Church."
Seventeen-year-old Kelsey Speakman of St. Thomas More Parish, was also shaken by the Mass. "It was beautiful. I was moved to tears when they brought the WYD cross that came to Edmonton."
The 100,000 plus crowd stunned her. "I expected it's going to be a huge crowd, but actually seeing the people it was like, 'Wow!' But the most important thing is we're here for the same reason - to celebrate our faith and be proud about it."