07/28/2006, 00.00
HONG KONG – ASIAN YOUTH DAY
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Card. Zen marks AYD opening with warm welcome

The bishop of Hong Kong was speaking to 200 families who will host around 1000 Asian youth in the territory for the fourth Asian Youth Day. He called the families to mutual understanding and tolerance in the name of the Church, "a large universal family".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/SE) –The Catholic Church is a "big family" and hospitality is "one of the virtues of Asians", so youth in Hong Kong for the fourth Asian Youth Day "will be like children for all of us". It was with these words that Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop of Hong Kong, opened the mass during which he "delegated" to 200 local families the responsibility of hosting more than 1,000 youth from 20 Asian nations

He said: "The Catholic Church is a big family. It is through mutual tolerance and goodwill that we come to know God's plan and design. I invite you to follow the example of the patriarch, Abraham, in the Old Testament, by offering these youth the best hospitality possible." At the end of the mass, the cardinal gave a representative from each host family a badge as a sign of their commitment towards the youth.

Thirty-two local parishes are responsible for the event that is based on the theme "Youth: The Hope of Asian Families". Each of them has organized some kind of activity to celebrate the encounter between youth from across the continent. The opening ceremony of the Day will be held on 30 July at the Shatin Jockey Club, although today is the first official day of the meeting.

Chan Kwok-wai, a parishioner of the Church of St Francis, will host some of the youth: "We are really excited about this experience. I accepted immediately and I hope my son will make new friends. We hope the Indonesian youth who are going to stay with us will feel that Hong Kong is a warm place and that God's love is present in every family." 

"In their free time," he added, "I would like to show them Hong Kong: the Peak, Victoria Park and cha chan tan (small, local restaurants). This is a welcoming place and I hope I will manage to make them grasp this."

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