Daejeon (AsiaNews) - Nearly 10 thousand young people, hundreds of Korean flags joined by those of various Asian nations, singing and dancing under a gray sky full of rain. All to celebrate the beginning of the Sixth Asian Youth Day - and the third in Korea - in an atmosphere of great joy and expectation for the Assumption Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francesco in Daejeon. Presiding at the inaugural Mass, Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik says: "I hope that all of you here you strive to make the Church in Asia a younger and more missionary reality. This will happen only when you are in solidarity with the Pope and with his Evangelii Gaudium. Study it and you will make our community great".
The bishop's call was greeted by loud applause. He was joined at the altar set up in the sanctuary of Solmoe (birthplace of the first Korean priest, Andrew Kim Taegon), by the Secretary of Propaganda Fide, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai. Among the flags of many countries, those of India and the Philippines stood out: None, at least visibly, from the People's Republic of China. Many faithful of the diocese - too old to travel to Seoul to welcome the Pope - "We will wait here - says an old lady - I am so happy that I will see him before I die."
Before Mass delegations preformed songs and dances from the different national traditions, even if the "highlights" of these performances will be kept for the Pope's arrival ceremony. During his homily, Msgr. You said: "You have to sow love always and everywhere, so it may be shared among us. Ask God, who is the source of love, to give us the grace to love ourselves and our neighbors. You young people must be a 'cry in the wilderness', which may speak boldly of today's problems without denying them, but without being overwhelmed by them. Your youth is not an illusion without substance that passes with time, the Church considers it as a infinitely lovable and precious gift and hopes that it will be used in the service of truth".
"Dear friends - said the prelate - never be afraid. A mistake is not a failure. All you need to do is start over again humbly and with courage. I urge you to place the living Jesus at the centre of your lives, who said 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. May your hearts be open to the whole world, do not challenge it or take only the best part: you have to accept it as it comes, following the teaching of the Lord".
Among those present was Jack, a young Indonesian from the Archdiocese of Jakarta, who is part of the official delegation from his country. Thanks to the cooperation between the Churches, he spent almost a week visiting a Catholic family in Daejeon and is now preparing to follow - along with the bishop - the various stages of Pope Francis' visit.
He tells AsiaNews: "I never thought that Korea was so beautiful, I am grateful to God for this experience of universality, for the kindness and hospitality of my Korean 'parents'. We are here to greet the Pope, but also, and perhaps above all to get to know each other better and build bridges of cooperation and solidarity. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to talk about my faith with other Catholics of other Asian nations, and it amazes me that some problems are the same everywhere. "Now", he concludes, "we are all engaged in seeking solutions and answers to the questions that life poses in Christ's teachings. I hope to experience this again and would really love to host some young Korean in my home in Jakarta"(VFP).