Asian Youth Day opens tomorrow with 3,000 young people from all over Asia. The final ceremony will see 20,000 young people from all of Indonesia's provinces. At the start, young people will stay with families in 11 dioceses. AYD activities will follow. The event sparks memory of John Paul II, who urged young people to be missionaries in daily life together with their peers.
Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – The countdown is over. From tomorrow until 6 August, the 7th edition of Asian Youth Day (AYD) will be held in Yogyakarta (Central Java), Semarang Archdiocese. This year’s theme is ‘Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia’.
About 3,000 young people from Indonesia and abroad will take part in the ceremony. All 37 Indonesian bishops and some bishops emeriti as well as foreign cardinals and bishops will be present.
This year’s edition is divided into three stages. The first part, from 30 July to 1 August, will be the ‘Days in the Diocese’ (DID), with participants living in 11 different dioceses, hosted by families, to share and learn about the faith. This includes celebrations with local communities and youth groups.
The dioceses involved are the Archdiocese of Semarang (Central Java), which hosts the main AYD events, Jakarta, Palembang (South Sumatera), Makassar (South Sulawesi), Pontianak (West Kalimantan); (West Java), Bogor (West Java), Purwokerto (Central Java), Surabaya (East Java), Malang (East Java), and Denpasar (Bali).
From 2 to 6 August, the actual AYD will be held with an opening ceremony, groups, seminars, reflections, celebrations, and the Eucharist.
The third stage, which will last 4 days, is open to bishops, priests and people involved in the National Youth Commission. Coordinated by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), it will assess the AYD and discuss future education for Asian youth.
AsiaNews spoke with Mgr Pius Riana Prapdi, bishop of Ketapang (West Kalimantan), president of the Youth Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI).
"Now everything and everyone is ready for the 7th edition of AYD," he said. For the prelate, the presence of young Catholics from different nations and from many provinces of Indonesia is a symbol of what the Church represents: being the messenger of evangelical joy.
"I am excited and I welcome all the participants coming to Yogyakarta,” he added. Somehow the choice of Yogyakarta is almost compulsory: it is a multi-ethnic city where thousands of university students come from many parts of the country.
For Bishop Riana Prapdi, AYD owes a lot to the personality of John Paul II. He "earned the confidence of young people because he took them seriously. Young people felt that the pope understood them in their concerns and hopes."
At the same time, John Paul II challenged them to give their lives for Christ. He asked them to follow a great ideal, inviting them to throw themselves into the New Evangelisation.
Mgr Pius Riana Prabdi remembers the words of the Polish pope at the World Youth Day in Manila (1995): “You, young people, are especially called to become missionaries of this New Evangelization, by daily witnessing to the Word that saves. You personally experience the anxieties of the present historical period, fraught with hope and doubt, in which it can at times be easy to lose the way that leads to the encounter with Christ.”
"Young Asians, the Catholic Church gives you the task of proclaiming to the world the joy that comes from the encounter with Christ,” the prelate added. “Welcome to Yogyakarta and enjoy this precious time to experience the evangelical joy in an atmosphere of pluralism and diversity in Indonesia."
Mgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, archbishop of Semarang, noted that the AYD challenges the region’s Catholic community to put into practice the diocese’s missionary pastoral project for 2016-2035.
"Our greatest concern is for the Church to give more room to our youth so that they can contribute more to the development and life of the Catholic Church."
In his pastoral letter to the diocese, released a week ago, he stressed that "the 7th edition of AYD is a huge blessing for the archdiocese of Semarang."
"We must have great confidence in young people and prepare them from now on to develop their skills so that they become community leaders in society."
He urged all the bishops to work together with youth. "With them we must plan our pastoral apostolate and together with them we can create a culture of life and a civilisation of goodness."
AYD’s opening ceremony will take place at the Yogyakarta Convention Hall. The final ceremony will be held at the Indonesian Airforce Academy.
Fr Johannes Dwi Harsanto, chairman of AYD Standing Committee, said that at least 20,000 young people from Java and all other parts of the country are expected.