Official Opening of WYD Is Celebration of Faith

Jesus Is the Best That Has Happened to Man, Cardinal Ambrozic Says

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TORONTO, JULY 24, 2002 (
The 17th World Youth Day opened with a Mass attended by thousands and presided over by the archbishop of Toronto, who hailed Jesus as “the greatest thing that could happen to man.”

Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic led the welcome Mass at Exhibition Place. A 400-voice chorus, singing a medley of hymns composed for previous WYDs, accompanied the liturgy, parts of which were celebrated in English, French and Arabic. The Mass was also translated into other languages over FM radio.

Cardinal Ambrozic centered his homily on Jesus, “the greatest thing that could happen to man, the greatest sign of God’s desire to be with us, of his love for us.”

“Yes,” he added, “Jesus is a human being but, much more than that, he is God, God with us, God made tangible and visible.”

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, entrusted by the Vatican with organizing the WYD event, welcomed the young people and suggested that they ask the same question that a youth once asked Jesus: “Master, what must I do to attain eternal life?”

During the penitential rite, young Canadians carried the WYD cross on their shoulders to the platform near the altar. The young men then knelt down and touched the cross in sign of veneration. The cross had traveled across Canada as a witness to the faith.

The Prayers of the Faithful were given in several languages, including Swahili. A plea for peace in Arabic read: “For all those who work for peace, for justice, and for reconciliation in the world, so that their efforts will bear fruit in a new era of harmony and fraternity.”

During the Offertory, young people representing the five continents carried lit candles in procession with a flame from the Peace Garden of Nathan Phillips Square, near City Hall. This flame was first lit by John Paul II on Sept. 14, 1984, with a burning piece of wood from Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial.

The WYD 2002 hymn “Light of the World” was sung during Communion.

At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Ambrozic invited the young people to follow Christ in order to be “light of the world and salt of the earth.” WYD continues through Sunday.

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