2017-04-04 13:12:00

Asian Youth Day 2017 to stress unity amidst diversity

The Asian Youth Day (AYD), a major event of Asia’s Catholic Church, is taking centre stage in less ‎than 4 months in Yogyakarta, ‎Indonesia‎.  ‎Some ‏‎3000 ‎young people from ‏‎29 ‎Asian countries are ‏expected to gather in the central Javanese city‎, ‎ July ‏‎30‎th - August ‏‎9‎th‎, ‎‏2017‏‎, ‎for the ‏‎7th edition ‎of the AYD on the theme, “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel ‎in Multicultural Asia‎!”‎

The Youth Desk under the Office of Laity and Family (OLF) of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ ‎Conferences (FABC) and the host country are organizing the meet.  AYD is an outcome of ‎the World Youth Day that was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1985.   The first AYD was  held ‎in Hua Hin, Thailand in 1999.  Since then the continent-level event has been held in intervals of 2, 3 ‎and 5 years.  The last AYD was held in Daejeon, South Korea, in 2014, which was attended by Pope ‎Francis.  The 7th AYD in Yogyakarta is the first time that Indonesia is hosting the continental event.    ‎

Organizers have planned the 11-day event into 3 stages, with July 30 – August 6 the actual AYD event.  ‎It will start with “Days in the Dioceses” (DID), July 30 - August 2,  during which participants will ‎be ‎hosted by 11 of the Indonesia’s 37 dioceses.   “In these dioceses, participants will learn and share their faith experiences with people ‎from ‎different countries,”  explained Fr. Antonius Haryanto, chairman of ‎AYD ‎‎2017.  Various activities such as the ‎Eucharist‎, ‎prayers‎, ‎games‎, ‎sharing of ‎testimonies and ‎‏other such sessions will be held “to unite the participants as a ‎Catholic people,” Fr. ‎Haryanto, also executive secretary of the Youth Commission of the Indonesian Bishops’ ‎Conference ‎‎(KWI), told Vatican Radio. ‎

After the Days in the Dioceses, all the participants will converge on Yogyakarta, Aug. 2-6,  for ‎the ‎main events of the AYD.  This will include events and activities such as group sharing sessions, ‎games, cultural presentations by participating countries, group prayers, ‎adoration, confession and ‎the ‎final Mass on the last day, Aug. 6.  ‎

With the main AYD event over, bishops, priests and lay people serving as guides, advisors and coordinators to youth in ‎their countries will stay back for the Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting (AYMM)‎‏‎, Aug‏‎. 6‎‏-‏‎9.  ‎‏They will be ‎provided material to help them coach ‎and encourage their young people to be able to be able to grow and ‎contribute to their respective society ‎and Church. ‎ ‎

With some 17,000 islands dotting its vast expanse of some 1,9 million sq kms, Indonesia is the ‎largest archipelagic nation in the world.  It is home to roughly 12% of the world’s mammals, 16% of the ‎world’s reptiles and amphibians, 17% of the world’s birds and 25% of global fish populations, making ‎it the world’s top biodiversity rich region after the Amazon.   ‎

It is also interesting to note that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, although ‎officially it is a secular state.  With an estimated population of 258 million, Indonesia is also the fourth ‎most populous country in the world.  More than 85% of its population  is Muslim, with Christians ‎forming nearly 13%.  Catholics make up some 3.5%.   Even though the government recognizes only six ‎official religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism), the ‎Indonesian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The state is based on the Pancasila or 5 ‎principles namely, belief in one God, a just and civilized society, unity of the country, democracy and ‎social ‎justice.   ‎

The vast majority of Indonesian Muslims are moderates, but recent incidents indicate that the nation is ‎no exception to the growing threat of Islamic radicalism among its people.  The nation’s authorities are ‎worried and are taking action.  “Our events promote tolerance and respect in living in a multicultural ‎country,”  Fr. Haryanto noted.  “This is why the ‎Indonesian Government welcomes and supports this ‎event, as this is also in line with ‎the ‎mission to fight the current issue of radicalism and extremism,” he ‎told Vatican Radio, referring to the AYD 2017.  “Indonesia is living the Pancasila ideology, ‎with the ‎slogan of “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” – which translated simply means “unity in diversity”.  He pointed ‎out that “the nation has existed for more than 72 years, with 1128 ethnic ‎group with different traditions, ‎‎746 ethnic languages, and thousands of islands united by ‎common goals of prosperity, humanity and ‎world peace.”   ‎Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang, Chairman of the Youth Commission noted that ‎the diversity of the AYD “is an asset that should be able to benefit us.”  “Diversity within ‎Asian ‎countries should in fact become the main asset for Catholic Youth to face challenges,” Bishop ‎Prapdi said. ‎

During the Days in the Dioceses, the Asian youth will be accommodated in families of “different ‎cultural backgrounds, ethnic ‎groups and languages,” Fr. Haryanto said.  In Yogyakarta, the participants ‎will stay in ‎seminaries and convents, and will also have the chance to taste “many different ‎kind of ‎Indonesian food.”  “Each participant will contribute to the expenses, including meals ‎and travel ‎expenses,” he said. ‎

‎“We have engaged heavily on digital and social ‎media,” given the fact that young people are media-savvy, Fr. ‎Haryanto explained. Besides, he said, organizers “have asked some famous Catholic athletes, ‎actors/actress, ‎public figures” to encourage participation in the events in the run-up to the July 30-‎August 6 AYD 2017. ‎

Please visit the AYD 2017 media sites: Web: www.asianyouthday.org; Facebook: Asian Youth Day 2017; Instagram: @asianyouthday2017; Twitter: @ayd2017; YouTube: Asian Your Day 2017.

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