Seven locals to take part in World Youth Day

Seven young people will leave just after sunrise Thursday morning on the journey of their lives as they head for the World Youth Day celebrations in Toronto.
“I’m really, really excited. I think this will be the trip of a lifetime,” Danielle Lee said yesterday evening.
Lee—along with Kenneth Desjardins, James Ring, Andrew Mueller, Andrew George, John Leschinski, Chris Boon, and chaperone Collette Fafard—will be leaving from St. Mary’s Church.
They’ll spend three days in Thunder Bay with Catholics from around the region. Then the group will be bused to Toronto for the festivities, which culminate with a papal mass a week from Sunday (July 28).
“When [Fr. Eugene Whyte] first told me about it, I knew I just had to go,” Lee remarked. “I hope to learn a lot about myself and meet people from around the world.”
“I’d like to meet the Pope,” Jason Ring, 17, said yesterday.
Ring said he’s started getting excited about the trip over the last few days. “I probably should start packing now,” he noted. “Everyone else is already packed and re-packed.”
World Youth Day began in 1984 when Pope John Paul II invited young people to gather in Rome on Palm Sunday.
Two years later, he proclaimed that World Youth Day celebrations would be held every Palm Sunday—and that an international event would also be hosted every two or three years.
Originally, more than 450,000 young people were expected to attend the international event in Toronto, but with concerns over the Pope’s ailing health and problems such as getting visas to enter Canada, organizers now only are expecting 200,000 to attend.
Lee doesn’t care how many people attend the event, she just wants her chance to hear the Pope speak.
“I want to hear his message to us, what he wants us to do, and how he wants us to be when we grow up,” she said.