a big deal when the Pope comes to town and nobody knows this
better than the nuns at three religious communities in Quebec and
Ontario who are making communion hosts for the masses that will be
said at World Youth Day observances. They have been preparing for
the event since last October. Their task is to prepare a mere
three million hosts – quarter-sized wafers of unleavened bread –
in time for Pope John Paul's arrival in Toronto on July 23.
The Pope will celebrate an open-air mass on July 28, when
750,000 people from around the world are expected to attend. There
could be more, but it won't come close to being the biggest papal
mass ever. That happened in Manila in the Philippines in 1995 when
nearly five million attended a World Youth Day papal mass.
The cloistered nuns are the Adorers of the Precious Blood in
Hamilton, Ont.; the Moniales Bénédictines de Joliette of Quebec;
and the Dominicaines of Berthierville, Quebec. Each of the three
religious communities made a million hosts.
"It was a challenge that we were happy to have," said Sister
Mariette Lussier of the Dominicaines, who normally make three
million hosts a year. "It was our way of participating in World
Youth Day." The communion hosts are only a small part of the
preparations. The hosts have to be distributed to the 750,000
people at the mass. This will require 3,000 eucharistic ministers
(priests, deacons, lay people). The Pope will distribute communion
only to a few of those at the mass, perhaps only a handful, as the
82-year-old pontiff is frail and suffers from Parkinson's disease.
The logistics of distributing communion to 750,000 people are
- The papal mass will be celebrated at Downsview Lands, on the
northwestern outskirts of Toronto.
- There will be 14 sections, each designated "a communion
centre," each with a special tent.
- Two days before the papal mass, cartons containing a dozen
ciboria (vessels containing the hosts) will be delivered to each
tent. Each ciboria can hold 250 communion hosts. Each tent will
have from 225 to 450 ciboria.
- 4,000 ciboria are required for all World Youth Day masses,
as well as 400 chalices (the vessel that holds the sacramental
wine). There will be 40 special chalices made of gold-plated
nickel on the altar at the papal mass July 28.
- The ciboria and chalices are ceramic, with a glazed finish
in beige, brown and blue. Sisters Christine Boudreau and Marie
Carla Silva of the Soeurs Disciples du Divin Maître worked from
January to June to make all the ciboria and chalices.
- The mass wine is white sacramental wine, ordered from
Broughton's Liturgical Supplies in Toronto. World Youth Day
organizers ordered 752 litres of wine. This amounts to 47 cases
of 4-litre jugs. The wine was made in California by Cribari
- The altar for the papal mass and the lectern are made of
- There will be 2,000 priests and 500 bishops – including 60
cardinals – for all the masses at World Youth Day events.
- There will be five field hospitals and 12 first aid units at
Downsview Lands (another field hospital and four first aid units
at Exhibition Place in Toronto)
When not on public display, the Pope will stay at a special
retreat on an island in Lake Simcoe called Strawberry Island,
about 10 kilometres from the shore near Orillia. He will stay in a
two-storey cottage. His meals will be prepared by an unnamed
Eastern European woman – the Pope is from Poland – who knows the
Pope enjoys simple fare: bacon, eggs, pasta, perogies, apple pie.
Pope John Paul initiated the World Youth Day conference in
1984, when he invited youth around the world to join him to pray
for peace and reconciliation. World Youth Day conferences are held
every two years. For the purposes of World Youth Day "youth" is
loosely defined as between 16 and 35 years of age.
A year ago, on July 25, 2001, the Pope delivered a message to
the youth of the world from his summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo.
"Come and make the great avenues of Toronto resound with the
joyful tidings that Christ loves every person and brings to
fulfillment every trace of goodness, beauty and truth found in the
city of man," the Pope said in his invitation.
This will be the 17th World Youth Day. Its theme is, "You are
the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world."