Participants come from India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Mongolia, Philippines, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. Indonesians have come from some of the remotest regencies to attend the event. For Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi, the young are the heart of the Church.
Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesians are famous around the world for their hospitality. This is what they are showing at present as they welcome local and foreign delegations attending the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7). As part of this, participants will spend a few Days in Diocese (DID) before the main event in Yogyakarta.
Last night, a large crowd of local Catholics in Pontianak (West Kalimantan) took part in a Mass at St Joseph's Cathedral to welcome 160 participants from India, Myanmar and four dioceses – Pontianak, Sanggau, Ketapang, Sintang – in West Kalimantan.
Mgr Pius Riana Prapdi, bishop of Ketapang and president of the Indonesian Bishops' Youth Commission, led the Eucharistic service together with the host bishop, Mgr Augustinus Agus. Dozens of Indian, Burmese and Indonesian priests concelebrated.
Mgr Riana Prapdi emphasized the role of youth as "the heart of the Church", saying that the future of the Catholic Church is in their hands.
"The attention and care of young people is becoming the most important thing for the Church,” he said. “Everyone is spiritually called to spread the culture of faith and life, [which are] good values in society. "
"Now it is time to act,” he added; “first of all, by looking at yourself. You now will be staying with Indonesian families whose lifestyle is totally different from yours. You will see joy and concern, and many social problems, including ecological damage. You must look at this from a perspective of faith."
"Secondly, you have to talk to them. Share your inspired hopes and dreams with them so that you can spread good values in them. "
"The third step begins with awareness of your presence in Borneo. You have come to a different atmosphere and yet you will feel that they are 'your family'. You will experience the love of your Indonesian hosts and you will love them. This is the experience of the joy spoken of in the Bible and you will share it with others, sowing good values in society."
Delegations from Vietnam, Singapore, Mongolia and the Indonesian Catholic dioceses of Atambua, Kupang and Malang arrived in the diocese of Malang (East Java). At least a thousand people met in the cathedral for Mass led by Mgr Henricus Pidyarto Gunawan, a Carmelite.
Afterwards, the first thing young people did was to walk from the cathedral (only a mile) to St Albertus' Dempo High School run by the Carmelites, the best school in the city. During the walk, they sang and danced, attracting curious glances from onlookers.
Fr Frans, another Carmelite, spoke about the diocese, whilst Fr Adi Pr symbolically "delivered" the kids to the "adoptive" families where they will stay for a few days.
In Bogor (West Java), young people from Hong Kong and the Philippines were welcomed by the local bishop, Mgr Paskhalis Bruno Syukur, along with his predecessor, Mgr Michael Cosmas Angkor. Both prelates are Franciscans.
In the Archdiocese of Palembang (South Sumatera), foreign delegates from India and Malaysia arrived along with young people from the archdiocese itself and six local dioceses: Medan and Sibolga in North Sumatera province, Tanjung and Karang in Lampung province, Padang in West Sumatera province, Pangkalpinang from Riau province.
Mgr Antonio Alwin Fernandes Barreto, bishop of Maharashtra, was with 46 young people from 20 dioceses in India for the first time in Indonesia.
At the opening ceremony, Mgr Barreto, expressed the true identity of young Catholics, which is to be close to Jesus. "Jesus,” he said, “is the centre of our life and He lives in our midst."
* Kristiana Rinawati and Maria Sylvista (Palembang), Laurentius Suryono (Malang), Sr Maria Seba (Pontianac), and Rickoloes Pricorianto (Bogor) contributed to this article.