Asian Youth Day, Laudate Si has changed the lives of young Catholics
by Mathias Hariyadi

Jonathan Cho was a lonely and lazy boy, and now he is very committed to environmental protection initiatives. Sumbal Tariq: "Inspired by the encyclical, I am committed to planting trees and protecting water sources." Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi, bishop of the Ketapang diocese: "The two boys have been able to bring the spirit of the encyclical into their lives and become a good example for others." Fr. Yohanes "Holy" Dwi Harsanto: "Learn courage to spread the values ​​of the Churches' social doctrine and teachings.


Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) - Laudato si ', the encyclical written by Pope Francis on the theme of protection and respect for the environment, inspired and changed the life of two young Asian Catholics.

Jonathan Cho, a native of Hong Kong, and Sumbal Tariq, a student of Islamabad (Pakistan), shared their own experience with young people who took part in one of the meetings organized on the second day of the Asian Youth Day in Yogyakarta (3 August, Photos 1 and 2).

During the debate Msgr. Pius Riana Prapdi, bishop of the diocese of Ketapang, province of West Kalimantan (Indonesia) and Fr. Yohanes "Holy" Dwi Harsanto, diocesan priest of Semarang, the host diocese, and member of the Organizing Committee.

Jonathan Cho was a lonely and lazy boy who fled socializing opportunities in favor of his technology gadgets. However, thanks to a Bible study group, he read and appreciated the Pope's encyclical. This profoundly and radically changed him, transforming his from a lifestyle "centered on myself" to one "aimed at society". Since then Jonathan has become a true lover of nature and is very committed to initiatives for the protection of the environment. "Ecology and the environment are not significant topics in Hong Kong. Our daily life is more focused on economic issues, such as financial investment."

Sumbal Tariq explained to those present how much water and its preservation are issues of crucial importance in his city. "Inspired by the Laudatesi" said the young man, "I began to engage in planting trees and protecting the springs of water like rivers, trying to prevent waste from being dumped."

Bishop Prapdi reiterated that the two boys, albeit coming from diverse social and environmental contexts, both represent a model of young Catholics who have been able to bring the spirit of the encyclical into their lives and become a valid example for others. The bishop then recounted the series of environmental challenges he faces each day in his diocese, extending over a vast and remote territory. Numerous mines, legal and illegal, and deforestation for palm plantations are just two of the threats to the West Kalimantan ecosystem.

Fr. Yohanes "Holy" Dwi Harsanto finally invited all those present to learn from the testimonies of Jonathan and Sumbal, from whom all AYD's students can learn the courage to spread the values ​​of the social doctrine and teachings of the Catholic Church.

On the same day, during the plenary session on "appreciating and celebrating our diversity", Msgr. Prapdi accompanied on stage Fr. Dominicus Bambang Sutrisno (photo 3). He is a diocesan priest of the diocese of Semarang who attends hundreds of elders in the Domus Pacis of Yogyakarta, a retirement home for priests. As a child, Fr. Sutrisno is suffering from a disability t, which now forces him into a wheelchair and influences his pastoral work. The elder priest told the young men present about his personal "spiritual battle" to fight the frustration of his infirmity, before he found comfort in the presence of God who allowed him to socialize with his neighbor. In his appeal to not worry about physical disabilities, Fr. Sutrisno said, "When you have no more courage then you are no longer young."

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