Welcome, bienvenue, karibu, mabuhay!

It’s a simple sign with a simple message, handwritten on plain white paper and cardboard, but it speaks to thousands.

The Anglican Book Centre, the retail bookstore based at the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada, wanted to do something to welcome the thousands of participants visiting Toronto in late July for the Roman Catholic church’s World Youth Day. What it finally came up with was a welcome sign, with the message spelled out in coloured marker in 27 languages.

Judi Bonner, a customer service representative at the bookstore, conceived of the idea while sitting among more than 100 French pilgrims on her subway trip to work during the youth day celebrations. She approached more than 20 national office staff to gather the translations of “welcome.” Among the languages she unearthed were Tamil, Serb-Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Tagalog and Arabic.

“It impressed me that there were so many languages in the building,” said Ms. Bonner. One Roman Catholic staffer even expressed her gratitude to the bookstore “for promoting her faith.”

Ms. Bonner said at least two dozen World Youth Day pilgrims and participants have visited the store this week, mostly from Trinidad and the United States. One group of pilgrims was brought to the store by their billet, who half-jokingly said that the Anglican Book Centre was “the best Catholic bookstore in the city.”

Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .