PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY
Many of you are preparing for WYD in Toronto both spiritually and practically. You have group meetings, airline tickets to book, lots to read... Perhaps it is your first experience, or perhaps you are a member of the veteran army of "WYD people" back from the front at Tor Vergata – some of you have been to several World Youth Days.
Whatever your experience and preparation, by now you are probably feeling the need to find out more about what awaits you next July.
The next few pages will try to respond to any question marks you may have.
It is the largest city in Canada and continues to grow on the banks of Lake Ontario. Downtown stands out as a harmonious line of skyscrapers, with CN Tower, 533 metres high, rising up high above them. Canadians say it is the highest building in the world.
Toronto was deservedly proclaimed the most international city on the planet by the United Nations. A noticeable characteristic is the diversity of ethnic groups living there. Chinatown and Little Italy are among the characteristic quarters of this city with 179 ethnic groups and 38 languages being regularly written and spoken. There is a tradition of tolerance and mutual respect which is also upheld by the governing authorities.
The weather in July brings temperatures of between 16 and 28°C, and there is a chance of rain.
Exhibition Place is near Lake Ontario, and every year it hosts the Canadian National Exhibition and other cultural and recreational events that attract thousands of people. This will be the location for the opening ceremony, welcoming ceremony for the Holy Father, the Youth Festival events, and many of the catechesis.
Downsview Park used to be a military airport in the north of the city. It covers 260 hectares and is now the largest urban park in the country. The Vigil and Mass with the Holy Father will take place here. This is where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass during his visit to Canada in September 1984.
Coronation Park is a pleasant area with trees on the banks of the Lake. It will be renamed for the occasion as Duc in Altum Park, and will be the location for the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the afternoons of 24, 25, and 26 July.
University Avenue is one of the main streets of Downtown Toronto. This will be the route for the Way of the Cross. The WYD Cross will be carried in procession from Nathan Philip Square (City Hall) to the Royal Ontario Museum.
Hospitality in the Canadian dioceses
The dioceses of Canada have chosen to follow the tradition of welcoming the young people who are on their way to the WYD city. From 18 to 21 July, groups who are interested can stay in one of the Canadian dioceses and join the local community in prayer, celebration, pilgrimage, social activities, and even some sightseeing. Groups who wish to avail of this opportunity should indicate this when they register for WYD so that they will be sent the relevant information. You will be guests of the diocese for board, lodging with families, and for the organised activities.
The 17th World Youth Day will officially open on the afternoon of Tuesday 23 July at around 4pm with the Opening Mass at Exhibition Place presided by Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto. This will be the occasion to welcome the young people who have come from other Canadian dioceses and other nations. It will be followed by a concert.
Welcoming the Holy Father
Pope John Paul II will arrive to join us on the afternoon of Thursday 25 July. The welcoming ceremony will be at Exhibition Place at 5pm. This will be the moment to wave our national flags and wear national costumes if we have brought them along.
On the mornings of 24, 25 and 26 July, the customary catechesis will take place in over 100 churches and civic centres. They will be in various languages and given by bishops from all around the world. The themes for the three days are:
All the catechesis sessions will conclude with Mass. There will be priests available for confession.
In order to save you from commuting long distances, and to ensure you will be at ease in a place with adequate space, the Canadian Organising Committee will assign your group to a catechesis location as near as possible to your lodging area.
Duc in Altum Park
On the afternoons of 24, 25 and 26 July, after 2pm, there will be the opportunity to visit this park for a moment of personal prayer beside the WYD Cross. After its long pilgrimage throughout the dioceses of Canada, it will stay here for a while before being taken to Downsview Park for the Vigil with the Holy Father. There will be a Service of Reconciliation for those who wish to prepare for confession. This will be available in many languages thanks to the presence of priests from different countries. One area of the park will be for Eucharistic adoration.
In Exhibition Place on the afternoons of 24, 25 and 26 July, there will be the Youth Festival with an assortment of artistic, cultural and spiritual events that spring from the life and faith of young people from around the world. You will find it hard to choose from among exhibitions, vigils, concerts, discussions, films, dance, theatre, regional and continental meetings, sharing sessions hosted by youth Movements, Associations and Communities. The calendar of events will be published in the pilgrim’s handbook. Entrance to all events is free.
For the first time in the Youth Festival there will be social service projects. You will have the opportunity to give a few hours of your time to service, and to form closer bonds with the community that is giving you hospitality.
Way of the Cross
The Way of the Cross will take place in several areas of Toronto on the afternoon of Friday 26 July. The main procession will depart from City Hall at around 7:30 pm and will cross the centre of the city along University Avenue, and will pass in front of some important buildings: City Hall, the University, the main hospitals, and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Gathering with the Holy Father
The climax of World Youth Day will be the Vigil and Mass presided by Pope John Paul II at Downsview Park on the evening of Saturday 27 July and the morning of Sunday 28 July.
You and your group can start walking to Downsview Park after 8 o’clock on Saturday morning. The organisers estimate that the distance you need to walk is between 6 and 8 kilometres. You will find everything well organised when you arrive, and there will be a concert to welcome you.
The Vigil will start around 8 pm. Everything - prayer, music, testimonies, symbolic gestures, the Holy Father’s words - will help to immerse you in the central theme of World Youth Day: "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Mt 5:13-14).
Bring along your sleeping bag and ground mat, and something to protect you from the cold and damp. The night of 27 July will be spent in Downsview Park. There will be a place reserved for prayer and Eucharistic adoration, and priests will be available for confession.
On the morning of the 28 July at 9:30, the Pope will celebrate the concluding Mass of the 17th World Youth Day.
GETTING ORGANISED TO GO
Most of you will have already done it either directly or through your parish or diocese. You must register in order to be accepted for participation in World Youth Day. Send the completed registration form (phase 1 form) before 15 May 2002 to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. If you come from Canada or the United States, send your form to the Canadian Organising Committee. All must register, including the following:
Registration can be done online at the website: http://www.wyd2002.org. If you are in a group, decide who is going to register online. Some groups were so enthusiastic they registered several times. If you wish to register by post or fax (methods used until now), ask for the registration form from your Bishops’ Conference, diocese, or directly from the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
After registration, the Canadian Organising Committee will send your group leader complete instructions on how to continue to phase 2 and phase 3 of the process. They will respond by e-mail, fax or post - whichever method you indicate. It is not as complicated as it sounds. You will see.
In phase 2 you will be sent a participation certificate that you must get signed by the bishop of your diocese or his delegate. Keep it with you because you will need it for various reasons.
Are you within the age-range?
The Canadian Organising Committee have established an age-range for WYD participants for reasons of organisation and content.
Those between the ages of 16 and 35 fall into this category. If, however, you are older than you feel and have passed the age of 35, you could share your rich experience and participate as a group leader.
If you have not yet reached the age of 16, you will have to be patient and wait for the next WYD.
However, all rules have exceptions. If you are 15 and are in a group of older youths, the organisers might close an eye. If you are younger than that and come with your parents, that is a situation that will have to be discussed with the Canadian Organising Committee Registration Department.
In any case, all minors (under 18) must be accompanied by an adult and always carry the participation certificate that must also be signed by a parent or guardian.
As always for WYD, you are asked to be generous with those who would not be able to participate without your help. We ask each of you to contribute $10 (or 11 euro) to the customary Solidarity Fund that goes to finance the participation of groups coming from countries with the greatest economic difficulties. Group leaders collect the money and send it to the Pontifical Council for the Laity (or the Canadian Organising Committee if you come from the United States or Canada).
You should know that this little solidarity contribution - and do not confuse this with the registration fees - has been a major reason why past World Youth Days have been truly worldwide events. Again this time, there are many young people depending on your donation so that they can represent their countries at Toronto.
Notice for priests
Priests who come with groups are invited to make themselves available to hear confessions at the catechesis sites.
For confessions in Duc in Altum Park and in Downsview Park, priests who are interested should register on the website www.wyd2002.org or ask the Canadian Organising Committee for the relevant form. Each priest will be assigned three turns of 2 hours each.
Confessors are asked to bring along an alb and stole. They will be required to show proof from their Ordinary of being in good standing with valid faculties.
Visas for Canada
You can find the list of countries whose citizens require a tourist visa to enter Canada on the internet at:
If you and your group are from one of these countries, follow the instructions given in phase 2 of registration. Get the participation certificate signed by your bishop or his delegate, and get together all the required documents. Then, at least 90 days before you leave, present all of this to the visa office in the Canadian Embassy, High Commissioner’s or Consulate in your zone. You’ll find a list of visa offices at:
The Canadian Government is helping to promote and support World Youth Day, and it is exempting all participants from payment of the visa charges.
THE STAY IN TORONTO
A package for you
You do not need to worry about how you will survive in Toronto. The organisers have thought of everything: food, lodging, city transport, pilgrim’s bag, medical insurance. Every effort was made to bring down the price as low as possible, even though the cost of living is high in Toronto. Here are the various prices established by the Canadian Organising Committee for the "packages" offered:
Cost: US$160 (or $240 Canadian). Consists of:
Cost: US$125 (or $190 Canadian). Consists of:
The same as Package A1 excluding meals (Each of the above points except for the last)
There is no reduction on packages A.1 and A.2 for those not using simple accommodation because it is completely free.
For those who come just for the weekend. Cost: US$65 (or $100 Canadian). Consists of:
Cost: US$40 (or $60 Canadian). Consists of:
The same as package B.1 excluding meals.
Simple accommodation can be seen as part of the spirit of living with the bare essentials that marks the WYD pilgrimage, and so it is highly recommended. If you choose this option when registering, you will be staying either with families, schools, or, if requested, campsites, from 22 to 29 July.
- Over 150,000 can be hosted by local families that are selected by the Canadian Organising Committee. Guests will be given breakfast, towels, bed or mattress with sheets, transport to and from meeting points with the rest of the group.
- 600 schools will host up to 180,000 people. Classroom and gymnasium floors will be prepared. (Do not forget your sleeping bag and ground mat!). There will be showers and washrooms and breakfast will be provided. There will be a team of volunteers in each place with knowledge of first aid. They will help you and watch out for your security. For this reason you are asked to show your pass at the entrance and not to smoke (see box).
- The Canadian Organising Committee are looking for suitable locations for campsites to include as simple accommodation. This will provide a further 5,000 places for groups who wish to camp out.
Following registration, accommodation will be assigned directly by the Canadian Organising Committee taking your preference into account, and also taking logistic reasons into account, for example, proximity to catechesis sites, availability of places, etc.
Canadian laws are clear: in schools and other public places, it is strictly forbidden to smoke - even during WYD. The authorities have "zero tolerance" for infractions to this rule. If people are caught smoking in a school, they will be immediately expelled from their place of accommodation. If you really must have a cigarette, just go for a walk. Be aware that, in the province of Ontario, you must be at least 18 before you can acquire, possess or use tobacco.
The same strict rules apply to the acquisition, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages. This is permitted for over nineteens, but not in public places.
This applies from the moment you arrive in the airport, so, be careful.
Alternative accommodation (paid)
If you wish to stay in a hotel or other touristic lodging, you should choose "alternative accommodation" when you register. Then you will be sent a special form that you should sent by fax to the Housing Bureau. You can choose from the various kinds of lodging available: hotel, motel, university residence or serviced campsite, but be aware that "first come, first served".
When you plan your expenses, remember that you have to pay for alternative accommodation. Although you are not using the simple accommodation offered, you cannot obtain reductions in the price of the package. You will also have to pay for breakfast.
Regardless of the kind of accommodation chosen, everyone will need a sleeping bag and ground mat for the night of 27 July that will be spent in Downsview Park. Those who have absolutely no means of finding a sleeping bag can hire them for a paltry sum from the Canadian Organising Committee, as long as the supply lasts.
Those who have chosen package A.1 can depend on the Canadian organisers for lunch and dinner from 23 to 27 July, and breakfast and lunch on 28 July at Downsview Park. This is the present distribution plan:
Breakfast from 23 to 27 July will be provided for those who have opted for simple accommodation.
When you arrive at the airport, there will be a shuttle bus to take you from Pearson International airport in Toronto to the nearest registration point. There you will pick up your pilgrim pack and then go to your accommodation site. If you arrive in Toronto by bus, you will be given directions to your accommodation site.
You will receive a pass allowing you free rides in the public transportation system of the greater Toronto Area for the period of time corresponding to the package you have chosen (23-28 July, or 27-28 July). If you are staying in the Greater Toronto Area, you can take the GO (suburban) trains to reach downtown, or the transit systems of cities bordering Toronto that will bring you to the TTC (Toronto City) system.
From the evening of 28 July, you can take the shuttle bus back to the airport.
We hope you will come in the best of health, but the Canadian Organising Committee is taking no chances. A health care system has been set up based on two basic points: foresight and the high standard of Canadian medical services.
As regards foresight and prevention, much depends on you:
If you should have health problems in spite of these precautions, do not worry. First Aid services and ambulances in Toronto are very efficient. Just phone 911 for medical emergencies.
Health services in Canada are not free. That is why there is medical health insurance included in the packages. Coverage is from 10 July to 1 August (for information about the conditions, check the website ). Remember that if you are not between 16 and 35, you will need to take care of your own insurance cover.
Participants with special needs
The Canadian Organising Committee is doing everything possible to make WYD accessible to all. They are giving particular care to preparations to welcome people with disabilities and to facilitate their participation in all the activities.
The individuals concerned will decide whether to use special transportation and accommodation, or to stay with their groups. Family homes and schools furnished with folding beds will be ready to provide a comfortable place to stay. In Downsview Park, these young people can choose to stay with their group or to sleep in a special paved area with folding beds. Throughout WYD there will be signposts showing the nearest first aid point.
You will be asked about the special needs of your group in phase 3 of registration. Bring your own wheelchair with you, and any other devices and appliances that you need in order to function normally. Note that helpers accompanying disabled people must also be registered as part of the group.
This is another priority area for the organising committee and for the authorities at the city, provincial and federal levels. Meticulous security procedures will be taken in every aspect, and there will be a huge turnout of the security forces. The four major police departments will be on duty, coordinated by the WYD Security Division. You can tell your parents not to worry. Even the famous Mounties will be protecting you!
Announcements and information materials will be given in various languages, and the WYD staff will be able to communicate with you. You will have personal experience of Toronto as an international city.
However, for those who are not polyglots, remember to bring along a small AM/FM radio with earphones so that you can follow the simultaneous translation during the main celebrations. There will be, if possible, translation into sign languages. If you can help out with this during these events, you are invited to indicate this in phase 3 of registration.
Again this time, there will be thousands of volunteers, young and not so young, giving their time and abilities in service to others in various sectors of the organisation. Without them, WYD could not go on.
The Canadian Organising Committee has already received a great number of applications. If you are over 18, possess a strong spirit of service, and are fluent in English or French, you also can get involved. Fill in the volunteers’ application form on the website and wait for a reply.
Once you are part of the volunteer staff, you will receive:
Travel, documentation and other expenses are your own responsibility.
Look at these two
These are two special volunteers called Sal and Luce, and they have been named "WYD ambassadors". Keep an eye on them in Toronto. They will show you the way to the WYD locations and information points, first aid centres, press office, etc.
If all your questions have not been answered here, take note of these two addresses. We shall do our best to respond to your inquiries.
Pontifical Council for the Laity - Youth Section
World Youth Day 2002
Have a wonderful WYD!