TORONTO, JULY 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- World Youth Day, called the laboratory of faith by John Paul II, is bringing the sacraments, catechesis and works of mercy to Toronto in a big way.
More than 200,000 young people split into 136 groups for this morning’s catechetical sessions given by 261 bishops, including 29 cardinals. The sessions, held in 24 languages, will continue to meet in 100 churches in Toronto and Exhibition Place.
The theme of today’s sessions was “You Are the Salt of the Earth,” taken from the motto of this World Youth Day.
The bishops talked about the sacrament of baptism as a vocation to follow Christ, reflecting on the significance of today’s Christian, to be the “salt” of society.
After the talks, young people were able to ask questions about faith and life. The sessions ended with the eucharistic celebration.
During the afternoons, the sacrament of reconciliation is available in various languages in Coronation Park — dubbed “Duc in Altum” Park for WYD — on the shores of Lake Ontario. Two hundred priests at a time will be available to hear confessions.
While waiting for his young penitents, Father Louis Labrecque, 37, of the Diocese of Pembroke, Quebec, referred to the crisis of the sacrament in some countries. “The sacrament of reconciliation is like a fountain,” he said. “Even if no one drinks, it continues to flow.”
“It is the power given by God to the Church to forgive sins, to lift the weight that people have on their conscience,” he added.
For the first time, WYD organizers have suggested that young people do volunteer work for several hours to help needy people or to develop and care for nature.