WASHINGTON (February 20, 2002) -- A solidarity fee from each U.S. participant who registers for World Youth Day through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will enable young people from the nation's Home Mission Dioceses to receive scholarships for the event in Toronto.
The fee follows past World Youth Days procedures in which U. S. pilgrims help fund scholarships for other who otherwise would not be able to attend World Youth Day.
Each pilgrim is asked to contribute a $10 fee. There are 68 Home Mission Dioceses who will participate in the scholarship program.
Among home mission dioceses are the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, in Appalachia. Young people there are preparing for the spiritual pilgrimage through evenings of prayer and community building activities. To assist in funding the pilgrims, parish communities have held such fund raisers as cookie-walks, spaghetti dinners and pizza sales.. One 18-year-old young woman wrote that "this is probably a once in a life time opportunity...and I want to take advantage of going...to be one of the many participants from around the world.." A 16- year-old young man wants to "get an overall perspective of the cultural diversity of the Catholic church and see how youth like me are trying to spread the love of Christ on all the continents of the world." A 22 year-old Catholic school teacher said she is attending "to obtain a clearer understanding of my Catholic identity and return with a renewed and revitalized faith that I can share with my students."
In the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, scholarship funds are going primarily to pilgrims from the Hispanic community. One pilgrim, a young woman, is a graduating senior whose father has a drug problem. He is currently in rehab and her mother has gone back to work in a day care center to support their family of five children. Without the scholarship, she would not be able to attend this international faith event.
The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau sifted through 62 applications before awarding nine scholarships to pilgrims from across southern Missouri. For these young Catholics from working class families, a trip to Toronto is a luxury. However the experience of the larger church and the multitude of cultures, races, and languages that comprise the church will be unforgettable since most have them have never traveled outside of Missouri let alone outside the United States. One pilgrim states that going to World Youth Day "will help me to learn to become a better Catholic to the church and other people." Another wants to "be able to converse with someone from another country at this time of crisis and to be able to find a common ground as one religion." Another hopes to learn to evangelize, stating "What I most definitely would like to bring back with me is a stronger faith in the Lord and the determination to spread it to others who may not know Him."