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Pedersen a World Youth believer

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Aug 02/02) - World Youth Day -- attended by multitudes from around the world last week -- was constantly featured in the international news.

And Fort Simpson's Tiffany Pedersen was part of it all.

Pedersen, who returned home Tuesday evening, said the highlight of her trip was being less than two metres from Pope John Paul II when he passed through the audience in his Pope- mobile. And the crowds were enormous.

Pedersen said she met people from Italy, Germany and several other countries.

"We went to Exhibition Place where we heard people sing in their language," she said. "And when we went to Downsview (for the Saturday night vigil) we were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people."

She attended many other sessions focusing on religion and people's beliefs.

Pedersen, who turns 18 next week and plans to study computer systems technology at Grande Prairie College in the fall, was in a group of about 20 other people from the Northwest Territories. They stayed at St. Anselm Church.

Without inviting it, she became a media mogul by being featured twice on the CBC's National newscast last week.

"They just asked me what World Youth Day means to me and who have I met," she said. "And then they took the camera and followed me around in Toronto ... it's my 15 minutes of fame."

Although her stardom may be short-lived, the memories and the spiritual message she took away will stay with her.

"Even through the hardest times, there are people out there who have to go through more, so always believe that you can go through anything if you have that desire in you," she said.

Martina Norwegian, a lay presider with Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Simpson, said Pedersen has been active in the church and was the obvious candidate for the trip.

"Nobody showed as much enthusiasm as she did," said Norwegian.

"She had given her babysitting money as registration. When she did that we knew she really wanted to go, so we did everything we could to support her."

Members of the congregation raised most of the funds to cover the trip through a bake sale, a raffle and a flea market.

"And people just donated," Norwegian said.