World Youth Day Set to Open Tuesday

TORONTO, JULY 22, 2002 ( As Toronto braces for the invasion of over 200,000 people for World Youth Day, a top organizer drew attention to the event's key purpose.

"What is important is that all the young people who arrive experience an encounter with Jesus Christ, so that these days may really be turned into the laboratory of faith, called for by the Pope in WYD 2000 in Rome," said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, director of the organizing committee of this World Youth Day.

On their arrival in Toronto, participants are given a backpack of helpful items for WYD. The backpacks were made by Canadian prisoners.

Most of the 200,000 young people who have already registered are staying with families or in schools and parishes, and some are using sleeping bags.

Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto, will preside over the opening Mass at Exhibition Place.

John Paul II is scheduled to land in Toronto at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Following a simple welcome ceremony, he will go directly to Strawberry Island on Lake Simcoe, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Toronto, where he will rest for a few days. The young people will welcome him in Exhibition Place on Thursday.

Catechetical sessions, led by bishops in various languages, will take place in more than 100 churches and civic centers throughout Toronto.

During the afternoons, young people will be able to visit Coronation Park, christened "Duc in Altum Park" for the occasion. Priests will be available for confession there. One section of the park will be reserved for eucharistic adoration.

In Exhibition Place on the afternoons of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, there will be the Youth Festival featuring artistic, cultural and spiritual events. There will be the opportunity to participate in social service projects.

On Friday, the Way of the Cross will take place in several areas. The main procession will depart from City Hall at 7:30 p.m. and will cross the city center along University Avenue.

The highlight of WYD will be the meeting with the Pope during the vigil Saturday in Downsview Park, and the Mass on Sunday.