by Catholic News Service
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) — More than 2,000 young people from 21 Asian countries arrived in Indonesia to celebrate Asian Youth Day, which kicked off with the preliminary three-day live-in program beginning July 30.
Modeled on World Youth Day’s Days in the Dioceses, the live-in program allows young participants to stay with local Catholic families in 11 archdioceses and dioceses ahead of the main Aug. 2-6 festivities, reported ucanews.com.
“We gather here because we believe in Jesus Christ. We are joyful to bring his teachings to a multicultural group of people,” Bishop Paskalis Syukur of Bogor said in his homily during Mass at the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in Bogor. “We celebrate our diversity in Christ who unites us.”
He called on participants to become witnesses in striving for social justice and peace as well as in preserving nature.
Franciscan Father Jemianus Hendrik Rance Tnomat, youth moderator at St. Paschal Parish in Jakarta, told ucanews.com that the young people were sent to live “with Catholic families who face problems, such as difficulty in holding rosary prayers in neighborhood communities because of opposition by local [Muslims].”
“We hope that they . . . will understand what these Catholic families have to experience,” he told ucanews.com.
“It is hoped that they will share what they get from the program with people in their own countries,” he said.
Therese Maria Abigail V. Ledesma of the Philippines said she is looking forward to learning about cultural differences. The 21-year-old said she believes the program serves as a good encounter experience.
“I will share my openness to new ideas, new people, meeting new personalities and opening myself to new experiences from people I meet,” she said, promising to share those experiences with other young people in her country.
Since 1999, Asian Youth Day has been held every three to five years.