ASIA/PHILIPPINES – Philippines’s Youth Day begins: the young – "agents of change"
Zamboanga – “National Youth Day” in the Philippines begins today, November 6. The so-called “national WYD”, which will last from 6 to 10 November, will see the presence of over 2,300 young people from all over the country. The chosen theme is based on the words of the Magnificat: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” “. The participants are young people between the ages of 13 and 39 who, during the various meetings and celebrations, will reflect on issues relevant to young people’s lives, such as social challenges, social media, human trafficking, promotion of social education, art and culture… The national gathering returns to Mindanao Island after 11 years: the last time it was held in Davao City in 2006.
The event sees the fruitful collaboration of the Catholic community with civilian civil authorities, in a phase where the Martial Law, proclaimed by President Duterte after the Marawi crisis, is still in force on the island of Mindanao. “It is an opportunity to express the desire of young people to embrace Christ’s mission among their peers”, said the Mayor of Zamboanga, Catholic Mary Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, offering full organizational support to the event.
The Archdiocese of Zamboanga, organizer of the event, together with the Commission for Youth pastoral within the Episcopal Conference, has set up a detailed program of activities: on the opening day the young people will walk together, in a colorful and peaceful prayer procession, in the streets of the city. Other processions and public processions on November 7 and November 9th. The days are marked by prayer encounters, liturgical celebrations, artistic and musical representations, sharing. “The local Church is very happy to host the event”, says Anthony Saavedra, co-ordinator of the Youth Pastoral Committee in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga.
“My hope is that Youth Day will allow young people from different places to meet in order to announce to the world how beautiful, precious and vital youth is. Young people participate with the desire to get to know God better and become pilgrims and apostles, to share with others the relationship with him”, said Archbishop De La Cruz to Agenzia Fides. “This event – continues the Archbishop – contributes to strengthening youth pastoral care.
Everyone gradually becomes more aware and appreciates the role of young people in the Church. Youth Day offers opportunities to express the desire of young people to embrace Christ’s mission. The Day celebrates a gift, the gift of being young and followers of Christ. It calls our youth pastoral leaders to be attentive to the signs of our times, to be involved and engaged in the works promoted by the Church”.
“The Day is a way to accompany young people in their way of life, so that they can be loved by Christ”, explains Fr. William Garcia, a priest who is participating in the event.
The city of Zamboanga has a lot to offer young pilgrims: diverse cultural, ethnic and religious traditions that come from three communities, the Christian, Islamic and Indigenous communities. The Peninsula of Zamboanga is a historic mission area for the Philippine Church: in this city, Christian missionaries played a key role in promoting faith and justice. “At the end of this five-day celebration of faith, our dream is that young people recognize themselves as ‘agents of change’ for our Church and our country. Therefore, it is our hope that this encounter will help form our young people as future leaders and as missionaries of the Gospel in the world”, says to Fides Fr. Wilfred Samson, local priest.
From 1987 to 1990, the event was always held in Manila. Since 1991, however, it has been celebrated in several dioceses of the country.