09/02/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Filipino Catholics prepare for the fifth Asian Youth Day

by Santosh Digal
From November 26 to 27 over 2500 will gather in Imus near Manila for the fifth Asian Youth Day. Prayer vigils and formation courses have been organized by various delegations to better prepare themselves for the event. Now in its fifth edition, the AYD has for years been an opportunity for young people to understand the importance of the Catholic faith in countries with severe political, social and religious problems.
Manila (AsiaNews) - "Young people of Asia, come together, share the Word of God and life in the Eucharist." This is the slogan of the 5th Asian Youth Day to be held in the Philippines November 23 to 27. About 2,500 young people from 22 countries in Asia have been invited to participate in the event. Preparations have already started in the Diocese of Imus (near Manila) and in major dioceses across the country, including the island of Mindanao, host to some of the events.
First held in 1999 in Thailand, AYD takes place every three years over three days of meetings and spiritual and cultural reflection. The last meeting was in 2006 in Hong Kong (pictured). This year the event is being organised by the largest Catholic country in Asia, and promises to be a great opportunity for many young people, particularly those living in countries where there is no religious freedom.
Rudolf Ceralvo, a 20 year old student from the Archdiocese of Manila remarks that "considering the numerous dark and destructive situations that characterize the Asian scene, the Youth Day aims to urge young Catholics to draw new life from Eucharistic message”.
In this context, the event is also an opportunity for young Filipinos to further comprehend the reasons for their faith and understand their Christian duty. "I will get to know how the other young Asians live Christianity and their faith in an inter-religious context," says Cristine a student from Manila.
For Msgr. Rolando Tirona, director of youth ministry for the Filipino bishops' conference, the meeting is not just a simple celebration. He says that it manifests itself as "a challenge to young people to become true protagonists for social change."
In the lead up to November 23, in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan prayer vigils and pilgrimages have been held. In particular on the island of Formosa, the Bishops' Conference organised from August 19 to 22 a "Taiwan Youth Day” open to all the young people in the country.
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