VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2002 ( John Paul II gave a word of support today to the final preparations for the upcoming World Youth Day in Toronto.

When greeting thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square to pray the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed to young people in particular. "I am eager to meet with you again in great numbers," he said.

In Toronto, meanwhile, a four-day preparatory meeting for the July 18-28 event attracted some 400 delegates of episcopal conferences, associations, and ecclesial movements from all over the world. Among the young guests were those from China, Israel, Russia, Sweden, Nigeria, Sudan and Angola. The meeting ended today.

John Paul II sent them special greetings and thanked the leaders responsible for organizing World Youth Day 2002, as well as the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Canadian Committee for their work to date.

The Pope hopes that "the world youth event in Canada will renew the magnificent experience of Rome 2000," which attracted more than 2 million young people. Toronto is expecting 500,000 participants.

John Paul II said that young people were "already ideally ´on the way´ toward Toronto, through the formative and missionary endeavors of the communities to which you belong."

"Put aside every fear and uncertainty: Remember that you must be the ´sentinels of the morning,´ always ready to proclaim the advent of the new day, which is the risen Christ," the Pope said.

The official World Youth Day page is at